Annual Live Code Tsunami Warning System tests improve EAS services in Alaska

Monday, 15 December 2014
Cindi C Preller1, Sam Albanese2, Michael Grueber3, Jeffrey M Osiensky1 and Joel Caldwell Curtis4, (1)National Weather Service Alaska Region ESSD, Anchorage, AK, United States, (2)National Weather Service WFO Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, United States, (3)National Weather Service Alaska Region SIB, Anchorage, AK, United States, (4)National Weather Service WFO Juneau, Juneau, AK, United States
The National Weather Service, in partnership with the State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and the Alaska Broadcasters Association (ABA), has made tremendous improvements to Alaska's Emergency Alert System (EAS) with the use of an annual live code Tsunami System test.

The annual test has been implemented since 2007 during the 3rd week of March commemorating the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 and promoting Tsunami Preparedness Week. Due to the antiquity of hardware, this test had always been conducted state-wide. This resulted in over-warn testing large areas of the largest state with no tsunami risk. The philosophy being that through over-warning, the most rural high risk areas would be warned.

In 2012, the State of Alaska upgraded their dissemination hardware and the NWS was able to limit the test to a regional area eliminating most of the unthreatened areas from the test. While this occurred with several great successes, it also exposed a myriad of unknown problems and challenges.

In addition, the NWS and the State of Alaska, with support from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Committee (NTHMP), has engaged in an aggressive education, outreach, and mitigation campaign with Alaska's coastal high-risk community Emergency Managers.

The resultant situation has produced a tight team between local Emergency Managers, State Emergency Managers and Emergency Operations Center, the NWS' National Tsunami Warning Center, NWS' Weather Forecast Offices and Regional Managers, and Alaska's Broadcasters coming together as a dynamic and creative problem solving force.

This poster will address the leaps of progress as well as the upcoming hurdles. Ultimately, live code testing is improving how we warn and save lives and property during the shortest fuse disaster his planet offers; the tsunami.