Tsunami warning system test set for March 25

(Sept. 30, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A test of the tsunami warning communications system is set for approximately 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, for coastal areas including Cordova, Southeast Alaska, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island, the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands to participate.

Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin confirmed on Monday, March 16, that the city will participate and that residents should be prepared to hear sirens going off at odd times.

The emergency test message will be broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, local television and radio stations. Residents in some communities may hear warning sirens. Some television systems are programmed to scroll a standard emergency alert text message, and in some cases, the message may not contain the word “TEST.” An audio message will state that the message is only a test, but if the audio is unheard, viewers may not realize the message is only a test, according to NOAA.

The test will not be sent to cellphones over the wireless emergency alert system, although in an actual tsunami warning, this system would be used. To avoid confusion with an actual alert, the test will be canceled if there is excessive seismic activity within 24 hours prior to the test, NOAA officials said.

The test is part of tsunami Preparedness Week, March 22-28, the same week as the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and tsunami, which killed over 120 people in Alaska, Oregon and California.

Test organizers are asking coastal Alaskans to provide feedback after the test at ready.alaska.gov.