Covering Louisiana

Mar 26, 2014 5:40 PM by Daniel Phillips

National Weather Service Hosts Gulf Coast Tsunami Drill

It's an incredibly rare event, a tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico, but an event that is possible and one that emergency managers are taking seriously. After a tsunami devastated parts of the world in 2004 the United States government began assessing the risk of a tsunami along the coastlines.

What they found was that although it may be a low probability event a tsunami impacting areas along the Gulf Coast was possible.

There are at least three locations in the Gulf of Mexico where an underwater landslide could occur, triggering a tsunami. Those areas sit off the west coast of Florida, the east coast of Texas, and about 190 miles south of New Orleans.

These landslides don't register like an earthquake on a seismometer so the only way of being alerted to an approaching tsunami is a DART buoy in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately the buoy has been out of commission for the past year.

Since there could be little to no warning for such a devastating event officals find it imparative to have a plan of action ready to go in case the unthinkable were to happen.

Scientists at the National Weather Service used Tsunami Preparedness Week as a chance to educate emergency managers of the impact of tsunamis and how best to prepare for them.

Forecasters simulated an aquatic landslide in the Gulf of Mexico and used computer models to determine the extend of the damage. What they had to say had officials concerned, who believe being prepared is absolutely vital even if the risk is minimal.

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