Homer Scare Motivates Murkowski to Ask for Review of Tsunami Warnings

Senator Encourages National Weather Service to Improve System

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today sent a letter to National Weather Service Assistant Administrator John Hayes asking him to review the NWS’s Tsunami Warning System after a March incident in Homer, Alaska, where false tsunami warning sirens sounded during the tragic earthquake/tsunami in Japan – despite the lack of a threat.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake tragically struck Honshu, Japan.  The result of the earthquake triggered a massive tsunami, resulting in the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issuing warnings to Alaska communities in the Aleutian Islands. However the warning sirens also sounded in Homer, a location safe from a potential tsunami.

“I understand that the National Weather Service may be requiring sirens to go off in every coastal city when there is a tsunami warning, regardless of location,” wrote Murkowski.  “If this is true, is this absolutely necessary or is there a more effective strategy that can be utilized?  I am concerned that if the sirens go off when there is no real threat, we reduce the effectiveness of this vital warning system.”

The March 11th incident was not isolated, as Senator Murkowski referenced a newspaper article identifying another false alarm in Homer on June 23rd, where a 7.0 quake near Amutka Pass initiated the process again, despite in both instances “there being no danger on the Kenai Peninsula,” wrote Murkowski.

(Senator Murkowski’s letter is attached)