The U.S. government has announced this as National Tsunami Awareness Week, starting just days after a disastrous tsunami powered over Japan’s northeast coast. Not that anyone necessarily needed reminding.
This week’s advisory, which urges U.S. residents to be prepared for a damaging series of waves, was scheduled before the March 11 Japanese catastrophe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the second annual observance of Tsunami Awareness Week. It’s too soon to tell if there might be a pattern emerging: last year’s observance came not long after a giant wave hit the Chilean port of Talcahuano following an 8.8 magnitude quake along Chile’s coast.
Here’s how the Japanese tsunami spread its force across the Pacific:
While the United States may not seem like a prime tsunami target, the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska have long been susceptible. NOAA notes the United States has more coastline than any country on Earth and is in proximity to several major fault lines. Any coastline is potentially in a tsunami’s path.
Because the danger from tsunamis can’t be eliminated, NOAA is concentrating on preparedness, including its main tsunami website. President Barack Obama stressed early warning systems in a statement this week.
“As we offer our assistance to those impacted by this tragedy, we also renew our commitment to ensuring preparedness along our shores,” Obama said. “Efficient warning systems and awareness in coastal communities are vital to protecting Americans in at-risk areas of the country.”