Alaska Quake Tsunami Scenario Swallows North Orange County Coast and Long Beach: USGS

A tsunami generated by a massive earthquake off the coast of Alaska would leave the northern Orange County coast and Long Beach underwater, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report released Wednesday.

The natural disaster would force the evacuation of about 750,000 coastal Californians and damage or sink one-third of the boats in marinas statewide, the report adds.

Otherwise, it's smoooooth sailing!

The mock quake the USGS is riffing off of would be 9.1 on the Richter Scale that strikes the Alaskan coast around midday on March 27, 2014. Thus, if such a quake hit during the warm summer months, evacuations would swell to more than 1 million because of the increased number of tourists or people with vacation homes on the coast, the report notes.

Lucy Jones, the USGS science adviser for risk reduction and frequent TV news talking head whenever there is a quake in California, says in a City News Service report that the "good news" for California is that three-quarters of the Golden State's coastline is made up of cliffs, so tsunamis damage could be minimal in most places.

The "bad news," she adds, is the low-lying areas such as Long Beach and northern Orange County are made up of some of the most "economically valuable property in California."

Which reminds me: Balboa Island. Isn't that place sinking even without a tsunami? Don't they have to pull a big bathtub plug in the middle of the island whenever it rains? This can't be good news for those folks.

After all, the report's modeling shows waves would reach our shores relatively quickly, reaching as far south as San Diego within about six hours. That would make evacuations difficult with so little warning, especially at hospitals, nursing homes and child day cares.

While the USGS is scaring the beejesus out of one poor sap pounding computer keys, the intention is to educate us to be more prepared, according to Jones.

"In order to effectively protect communities from tsunamis, we must first know what to plan for," she explains in the City News Service piece. "By starting with science, there is a
clearer understanding on how tsunamis function and their potential impacts. This scenario will serve as a long-lasting resource to raise awareness and provide scientifically sound and unbiased information to decision makers in California and abroad."

Anyone got a spare snorkel?

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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