It's just a drill - for those in Kodiak, Thursday's tsunami warning siren is to test the system

Published: Jul. 19, 2018 at 1:01 PM AKDT
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Residents in Kodiak will experience the loud blaring sound of the tsunami warning siren; but don't worry - it's just a drill.

In an alert email issued by the Kodiak Police Department, officials in town wanted to give residents early warning not to be overly alarmed by the alarm, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 19.

Kodiak, which saw real tsunami warnings months ago for an actual earthquake and resulting tsunami, is one of many Alaska communities which need to be, at a moment's notice, ready to respond to the natural disaster.

That's because, as officials explain, earthquakes are "no-notice" events that, unlike a hurricane or other disaster, can't be reliably forecasted and can happen any time without advance notice.

"Alaska has 11 percent of the word's earthquakes yearly," said Jeremy Zidek, spokesperson for Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "We see 10-14,000 earthquakes of significant magnitude each year."

And earthquakes aren't even the worst part of the threat in terms of damage.

Zidek says that tsunamis do damage disproportionate to the earthquakes that cause them. Because of that, Alaska communities like Kodiak and others on the coast, need to make sure their emergency alert systems work without a hitch.

"These systems, and testing them, is incredibly important," Zidek said. "In order for people to act quickly and protect themselves, they need as much notice as they can get."

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