Washington State will again be participating in the annual NOAA/National Weather Service Tsunami Warning Communications Test on September 15, 2010 at 10:15 a.m. For the first time as part of this annual test, the Washington State-Local Tsunami Workgroup has requested that Washington State Emergency Management Division activate the All Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) sirens in the outer coastal counties to conduct a true ‘end-to-end’ test of the entire warning system.
The Workgroup, which is comprised of County/Tribal Emergency Managers as well as State and Federal agency representatives, has specifically recommended using the Standard TEST MESSAGE and Actual WARNING TONE as part of this test to help familiarize residents in at-risk coastal communities with the sound made by the sirens during an actual tsunami warning. This test will be different that the routine monthly testing that has been occurring on the first Monday of each month since it will broadcast an audible siren wail tone instead of a chime tone; however, the voice message will be exactly the same as the routine test message.
The standard test message relayed by the AHAB sirens is as follows:
"The following is a test of the siren system. It is only a test. This is a test of the siren warning system. If this had been a real emergency you should tune in to your local radio station or listen to this system for further instructions. This was only a test."
The regular monthly test conducted on the first Monday of every month will be unaffected by this statewide exercise.
The actual siren tone can be heard on the EMD website at: http://www.emd.wa.gov/hazards/prog_ahab.shtml
To widely disseminate the fact that this test will be occurring, the Washington State Tsunami Program will be supporting County, Local, and Tribal Emergency Managers for this effort through a targeted awareness and outreach campaign with the slogan “Chill, It’s Only a Drill”. This is patterned after other successful campaigns for this event in California and Alaska.
The campaign will include the following elements:
· Post cards notifying residents of the test will be mailed to EVERY household in Pacific, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, and Clallam Counties
· Flyers notifying residents and visitors of the test will be provided to County & Tribal Emergency Managers for distribution to local business for posting
· A Public Service Announcement (PSA) has been recorded by the National Weather Service and will be played on local radio stations in the days before the test
· Materials notifying schools of the test will be distributed via mail
· Portable electronic message signs will be located on main roadways indicating the siren test will be occurring at 10:15 a.m.
· State and local press releases will be issued
· Advertisements will be run in local newspapers regarding the communications test
The test will be initiated by the West Coast / Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, AK, near 10:15 AM on Wednesday, September 15, 2010. Each National Weather Service forecast office and State Emergency Operations Center serving the Washington, Oregon and California coasts will get the 'test' tsunami message. It will also be relayed onto wire services (e.g. - AP) and state emergency wire services such as the one in Washington nicknamed ACCESS.
The National Weather Service forecast offices that serve coastal Washington in Portland and Seattle will activate the Emergency Alert System (EAS) using the Required Monthly Test or RMT event code via NOAA Weather Radio. NOAA Weather Radio stations in Blaine, Puget Sound, Seattle, Olympia, Neah Bay, Astoria, Woodland, Portland and further south into Oregon will air the RMT and not transmit an actual Tsunami Warning EAS message. The Washington Emergency Management Division’s State Emergency Operations Officers will then activate the AHAB test message and siren tone for the AHAB sirens on the coast.
Again, the tsunami warning communications test is expected to be set in motion near 10:15 AM on Wednesday, September 15, 2010. This event is a key element in the Weather Radio Awareness Month campaign in Washington as well as the National Preparedness Month and earthquake, tsunami education efforts.