Since they don’t happen very often, the threats from great earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis are often under appreciated, particularly in North America and Europe.
Yet history is replete with accounts of devastating seismic events in such seemingly unlikely places as Basil, Switzerland and Lisbon, Portugal (see A Look At Europe’s Seismic Risks), Charleston, S.C. and Vancouver, B.C. (see Just A Matter Of Time).
While we think of these disasters as primarily localized events, impacting a few thousand square miles, our oceans can transfer the released energy from an earthquake, meteor strike, volcanic eruption, or undersea landslide across distances of thousands of miles in the form of a tsunami (or more likely, a series of tsunami waves).
The great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 sent tsunami waves crashing into Spain, Portugal, England, North Africa, and was felt as far away as the Caribbean. Wave heights were reportedly as high as 20 meters in North Africa, while a 3-meter tsunami struck at Cornwall on the Southern English coast and in Galway, Ireland waves damaged the `Spanish Arch’ section of the city wall.
Tsunami Travel Times from the 1755 Quake
A few weeks ago, in The Caribbean’s Hidden Tsunami Potential (Revisited), we looked at that region’s history – and potential – for generating tsunamis that could affect the Gulf Coast and Atlantic coastlines of the United States, along with Mexico, Central America, and South America.
After the recent Ring Of Fire earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand, and Japan – and the devastating Indonesian earthquake and Tsunami of 2004 – earthquake researchers are speaking with renewed urgency about the potential for seismic destruction and the need to prepare.
An Active Ring of Fire
Original Map – USGS
Courtesy of a tweet from FEMA Director Craig Fugate a few years ago, I found this fascinating slideshow training presentation on the East Coast Tsunami Threat. One of the most remarkable slides in this 29 minute presentation shows that while they happen less often than Pacific tsunamis, historically the east coast death toll is almost as great as those from the west coast.
Depending upon the type of precipitating event (seismic activity, landslide, asteroid/meteor impact, etc) and the location, tsunami travel and warning times around the Atlantic will vary from minutes to many hours.
You can access current Tsunami warnings and arrival times at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
While it may seem unlikely that a tsunami will affect you or your region - this is just one of many potential hazards that may threaten you and your community - and they all require similar preparedness steps.
Knowing your local threats, whether they be tsunamis, forest fires, floods, earthquakes or hurricanes . . . and then becoming prepared to deal with them, will provide you and your family the best safety insurance available.
To become better prepared, visit the Ready.gov site today.
To learn how to prepare as an individual, family, business owner, or community I would invite you to visit the following sites.
AMERICAN RED CROSS http://www.redcross.org/
And a sampling of some of my general preparedness blogs includes: