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Earthquake Sets Off Tsunami Warnings Along West Coast

Luke Lindsey, Staff Writer

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January 23rd at 12:31 am, an Earthquake of a 7.9 magnitude erupted off the coast of Alaska. This set a Tsunami in motion towards the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. The scare of the disaster held tension throughout the morning after residents of the coastline as far as Anchorage, 350 miles from the epicenter off the Alaskan coast, experienced a rumbling intense enough to shake houses, but as of 4:30 am that morning, the Tsunami warning had been lifted according to the NY Times. “A Tsunami was generated by this event but no longer poses a threat,” said the United States National Warning Center in Alaska.

Sirens wailed in small Alaskan towns on Tuesday morning, such as Old Harbor, Seward, and Kodiak. Citizens were told to evacuate the shoreline and move inland or to an upper story of a tall building depending on their situations. Many Alaskans demonstrated strong character as places of safety, such as Pillar Mountain in Kodiak, were being flooded with those seeking refuge. Residents who lived in elevated places were giving up their homes to people and grouping together in secure locations.

Stephanie Wyzkoski, who co-owns The Cranky-Crow Bed and Breakfast with her husband, John, said that “People are going to the high school and town pool to evacuate. We are quite high up, and we are close to the hospital, so we have opened up our house to friends.” The warning was called off four hours later and the wave was observed to have a height of 8 inches.  

The epicenter hit in the Alaska Subduction Zone, a region off the shoreline where earthquakes are quite common. In 1964, an earthquake hit relative to the same area with a magnitude of 9.2, the second largest ever recorded, generating a tsunami and leaving 131 dead. The degree to which precautions were taken were completely justified when looking to similar past events like this. Despite the irony and relief that met them in the form of an 8 inch wave, people were terrified.

Geologists say that the massive earthquake did not occur directly where the two plates meet, but shifted much more like the San Andreas Fault in California. These types of earthquakes move horizontally, grinding against instead of sliding beneath one another, and though they can release an immense amount of energy, they are less likely to cause a tsunami of any significant strength since less water is being forced towards the ocean’s surface.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/earthquake-tsunami-alaska.html

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