Alaska to test tsunami warning system

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Officials from the National Weather Service (NWS) and Alaska’s emergency management office will test a tsunami communications warning system March 29.

The test will include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Radio All Hazards, a network of radio stations broadcasting weather information supplied by the NWS; the Emergency Alert System; and other state and local communication channels.

The test, which is being conducted in cooperation with local emergency management offices and the Alaska Broadcasters Association, will broadcast live tsunami warning codes – rather than a test code – across TV and radio stations, but the text of the message will likely indicate it is a test.

“We are doing all we can to ensure the public is aware of the test ahead of time so we do not create confusion,” David Liebersbach, director of the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in a prepared statement. “The only way to truly test our warning system is to use the live codes, so it is very important that we involve the public in the test as much as possible.”

Federal and state officials will evaluate the test for problems, but they are also asking residents to monitor their sources and report what messages they did or did not receive and report either through a Web address that will be included in the message or to their local NWS office.

The test is part of Tsunami Awareness Week, which runs from March 26 to April 1, the same week a magnitude 9.2 earthquake triggered tsunamis in the state more than 40 years ago.

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