SEASIDE, Ore. -- City staff in Seaside were on watch alert after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska Tuesday morning, but officials said the threat did not warrant triggering the tsunami warning system.
The quake struck at about 1:31 a.m., 174 miles off Kodiak, Alaska, and triggered a tsunami watch for coastal areas from Northern Washington to Southern California.
"Protocol dictates had this watch risen to the levels of advisory or warning, direct messaging --including use of the city's tsunami warning system -- would have alerted residents and visitors by using a number of different warning indicators," said city spokesman Jon Rahl. "The city's Nixle Alerts, alarm towers, social media channels, along with use of Clatsop County's IPAWS system would have all served as potential methods for alerting the public."
Seaside's Dispatch Center is equipped with a monitoring system and the city was carefully watching the event, he said.
Cannon Beach Fire Chief Matt Benedict said he was up all night with the emergency operations crews, monitoring the weather alerts, and he never felt the need to sound the siren.
"They leave it up to us, and it’s our community. We look out for the best of them, and we’re more proactive," Benedict said. "We’re gonna hit it earlier than later. But no need today, thank God."
A tsunami "watch" means there is potential for an event to happen and details are still unknown; an "advisory" means strong currents and waves have been recorded. The final level of notification, a "warning," means dangerous coastal flooding and powerful currents are likely imminent.
Tuesday's event never rose above a watch, and Chief Benedict said nearby residents concerned about that preliminary information should monitor emergency channels before calling 911.
"Seaside Dispatch takes the 911 calls and they were inundated with a whole bunch of 911 calls," Benedict said. "So I recommend just listening to the radio, watching the websites, looking at the news channels just following directions from there."
Seaside Resident, Heather Brien, said she wishes she had received a text message, email, or any other notification to let her know what was going on.
“I would have wanted to hear right when it was happening by text message,” said Brien.
“We want to stick to notifying people when we feel it's necessary. We don't want to get to the point where we're pushing so many [alerts] out that people become immune to them,” said Rahl.
While officials in Clatsop County did not issue a local notification, Lincoln County officials decided to activate it’s alert system.
A federal alert from NOAA was also apparently issued, however the people we spoke with in Seaside did not receive that alert either. Officials said if it wasn’t received, it’s likely because the smartphone didn’t have the capability or they may have missed it. The alert would have been sent out on the same system as an Amber Alert.
City officials recommend that residents sign up for alerts that can help keep them informed:
- Register for local alerts powered by Nixle by sending your zip code, by text, to phone number 888777. This will sign users up for monthly warnings.
- Alternatively, you can follow the Seaside Police Department, City of Seaside and Seaside Fire on Facebook.
- The National Weather Service also send out alerts, including the tsunami threats when earthquakes strike. Visit weather.gov/alerts to register.