Santa Barbara City officials recently submitted a “TsunamiReady City” application to the National Weather Service for approval by early 2012.
The city achieved a “StormReady” classification in August 2009 — designating the area adequately prepared for severe storms — and began completing an additional set of criteria including developing multiple public “tsunami alert” systems, providing public education programs and creating a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center. The NWS’s acknowledgement will make UCSB the only “TsunamiReady” campus in the country.
According to Emergency Services Manager Yolanda McGlinchey, the city is in the final stages of becoming “TsunamiReady” in preparation for approval.
“We are currently getting ready to put up ‘evacuation,’ ‘entering and leaving’ and ‘you are in an inundation’ signs,” McGlinchey said. “These signs are directional as well as informational.”
The California State Government provided 160 signs for placement in affected areas and an additional 40 replacement signs in case of vandalism, McGlinchy said.
The NWS’s recognition serves as a means to verify a city’s attempts to ensure adequate safety precautions, according to Warning Coordination Meteorologist in Los Angeles and Oxnard Eric Boldt.
“The National Weather Service does not ‘certify’ a city as TsunamiReady, it’s more correct that we designate or recognize their preparedness actions to become Tsunami Ready,” Boldt said in an email. “The city fills out an application showing all qualifying information in the guidelines … they have tsunami evacuation signs and a plan in place, and then we schedule a meeting to verify the data on the application.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website also suggests cities develop emergency operations centers, administrative evacuation plans and hydrometeorological monitoring equipment.
Although the risks of a tsunami hitting Santa Barbara’s coastline are minimal, SB County Emergency Manager for the Office of Emergency Services Jay McAmis said proper preparations are necessary in case a “near-source” tsunami stemming from seismic activity near the coast occurs.
“In layperson’s terms, the chances of a significant tsunami event impacting Santa Barbara County are fairly small, but in the event that one happens it would impact approximately 20 miles of Santa Barbara County coastline, primarily the coastal areas of the City of Goleta, the City of Santa Barbara, and the City of Carpinteria,” McAmis said. “In broad terms, any coastal area with an elevation of under 20 feet would most likely sustain some type of damage, especially in a near-source event.”
OES has also hosted a Spanish community meeting and provided educational emergency preparedness brochures in English and Spanish in an attempt to reach out to the area’s large Spanish-speaking population.
Visit www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov for more information on the program.