The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario: from Publication to Implementation

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Stephanie Ross1, Lucile Jones2, Kevin Miller3, Rick I Wilson4, Erin R Burkett2, John Bwarie5, Nnenia M. Campbell6, Laurie A. Johnson7, Kate Long8, Patrick J Lynett9, Suzanne C Perry10, Geoffrey S Plumlee11, Keith Porter6, Charles R Real4, Liesel A. Ritchie6, Anne M Wein12, Paul Whitmore13 and Nathan J Wood14, (1)USGS, Menlo Park, CA, United States, (2)USGS Pasadena Field Office, Pasadena, CA, United States, (3)California Office of Emergency Services, Governor's Office, San Francisco, CA, United States, (4)California Geological Survey, Sacramento, CA, United States, (5)Stratiscope, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (6)University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (7)Laurie Johnson Consulting | Research, San Francisco, CA, United States, (8)Cal EMA, Pasadena, CA, United States, (9)University of Southern Califor, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (10)USGS, Pasadena, CA, United States, (11)U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO, United States, (12)U. S. Geological Survey, Western Geographic Science Center, Menlo Park, CA, United States, (13)NOAA Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, United States, (14)U.S. Geological Survey, Portland, OR, United States
The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario modeled a hypothetical but plausible tsunami, created by an Mw9.1 earthquake occurring offshore from the Alaskan peninsula, and its impacts on the California coast. We presented the likely inundation areas, current velocities in key ports and harbors, physical damage and repair costs, economic consequences, environmental impacts, social vulnerability, emergency management, and policy implications for California associated with the scenario tsunami. The intended users were those responsible for making mitigation decisions before and those who need to make rapid decisions during future tsunamis. The Tsunami Scenario process is being evaluated by the University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Center; this is the first time that a USGS scenario of this scale has been formally and systematically evaluated by an external party.

The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario was publicly introduced in September, 2013, through a series of regional workshops in California that brought together emergency managers, maritime authorities, first responders, elected officials and staffers, the business sector, state agencies, local media, scientific partners, and special districts such as utilities (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2013/1170/).

In March, 2014, NOAA’s annual tsunami warning exercise, PACIFEX, was based on the SAFRR Tsunami Scenario. Many groups conducted exercises associated with PACIFEX including the State of Washington and several counties in California. San Francisco had the most comprehensive exercise with a 3-day functional exercise based on the SAFRR Tsunami Scenario. In addition, the National Institutes of Health ran an exercise at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in April, 2014, building on the Tsunami Scenario, focusing on the recovery phase and adding a refinery fire.

 The benefits and lessons learned include: 1) stimulating dialogue among practitioners to solve problems; 2) seeing groups add extra components to their exercises that best address their specific concerns; 3) providing groups with information packaged specifically for them; 4) recognizing the value of having scenario developers personally present the scenario to user groups and 5) having the SAFRR work applied to support ongoing activities by and future directions of the California state tsunami program.