Alaska quake shows complexity of tsunami warnings

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The powerful earthquake that struck beneath the Gulf of Alaska generated a tsunami, but before gauges could show that it was very small, warnings went out to a vast swath of the state, British Columbia and the West Coast.

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 12:52 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2018 12:52 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The powerful earthquake that struck beneath the Gulf of Alaska generated a tsunami, but before gauges could show that it was very small, warnings went out to a vast swath of the state, British Columbia and the West Coast.

Analysis by the National Tsunami Warning Center allowed experts to downgrade and call off all alerts in less than four hours. But an official involved in the process says the protocol for the immediate warning only considered magnitude and location.

David Hale, a lead decision maker with the center, says that's because there's not enough time to determine whether or not a wave has been created before alerting the closest people.

By the time the final advisory was canceled, the largest observed tsunami height was less than a foot.

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