Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tsunami Preparedness Exercise

By 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach

Tsunamis are a real danger for communities in low-lying coastal areas, including those in California. To help residents of these areas, CAP maintains readiness to provide information in the event of an imminent tsunami threat.

On the 28th of March, Groups 2 and 5 conducted a tsunami warning exercise, working together with a Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS).

In this exercise, two CAP aircraft flew along the Northern California Coast, at 1000 AGL, using the Airborne Public Address System (APAS) to continuously play a pre-recorded message, announcing the imminent (simulated) threat, urging residents to move to higher ground, and providing an official phone number for more information.  In addition, ground-based sirens were used in some locations to simulate the alert.

The exercise was considered a great success, and this year, our APAS was more audible than in past years.

The weather service and emergency response communities have appreciated the CAP broadcasts, and several people have reported looking forward to them as a highlight of the exercise. One person reported that they couldn’t see the airplane, but heard a voice coming from the clouds telling them to call the NWS phone number!

Since low-flying aircraft moving in and out of the coastal hills are unable to reliably reach the radio repeaters, and thus unable to speak to the temporary Incident Command Post (ICP) at Santa Rosa airport, a third aircraft was launched to provide hi-bird communications, orbiting at 13,500 ft and relaying messages between the low-flying aircraft and the ICP. Almost five hours later, we (hi-bird) were very ready to land.

Participating from Squadron 188 were:

  • Maj DeFord, Incident Commander
  • Capt Hayes, Mission Observer (hi-bird)
  • 1st Lt Hollerbach, Mission Pilot  (hi-bird) 

The Times Standard in Humboldt County had a nice article about the exercise, which can be found by clicking here.

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