The doleful North Spit tsunami sirens, as heard from the Eureka Boardwalk today.

As you probably know, this morning at 11 a.m. Humboldt County put its various tsunami alert systems through their paces, just to be sure that all systems will be ready to respond in the event of an actual emergency. In the video above, you hear the tsunami sirens blaring away on the Samoa Peninsula, as they should do.

Here at LoCO HQ, reporter Ryan Burns’ cell phone was robocalled with news of the test. The rest of our phones were not. Why? We don’t honestly know. Probably because Burns, at some point, signed up with the Humboldt County Emergency Alert System and the rest of us had not. Maybe you want to do that now, especially if you live in a tsunami danger zone.

Our friends at KWPT radio were in the middle of a bumping Cars set when, at 11:02 p.m., the Emergency Alert System took over. It sounded like this:


This is a reminder: Tsunamis can and do strike the Humboldt County shore. One struck our shores on March 11, 2011, when the Tõhoku earthquake hit off the shore of Japan and melted down the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Though we had many hours of warning, one on the North Coast was killed and caused millions of dollars in damages along the West Coast. Highways were closed. Docks were destroyed in Fort Bragg and Crescent City and Brookings. 

And that tsunami was nothing compared to the one that will strike one day, when the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which lies just off our coast, suffers a major slippage, as it does every few centuries. In that case, the tidal waves will be longer and much stronger, and we’ll have only a few minutes to get ourselves and our families to safety.

Everyone in the county needs to have a plan, and that is especially true of people who live, work or go to school in the most low-lying areas — Orick, Big Lagoon, Trinidad, the Arcata Bottoms, the Samoa Peninsula, Old Town Eureka, Fields Landing, King Salmon, the lower Eel River Valley, Shelter Cove. The Redwood Coast Tsunami Working Group has a wealth of information, including brochures, evacuation maps and much more. It wouldn’t hurt you to peruse that site tonight, and to start thinking about these things, if you haven’t already.