NWS prepares for Gulf of Mexico tsunami - KLFY News 10

NWS prepares for Gulf of Mexico tsunami


In Southwest Louisiana, natives are familiar with hurricanes and even the occasional tornado. However, earthquakes, landslides and a tsunami are far-fetched, but recently discovered to not be completely impossible. The National Weather Service in Lake Charles held a tsunami drill Wednesday morning to draft a plan of action should the natural disaster occur.

Meteorologists, officials with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard took a look at the most probable scenario for a Gulf of Mexico Tsunami.

"An earthquake off of the New Orleans' coast causes a submarine landslide in the Mississippi Canyon area and this will cause a tsunami and wave across the Gulf of Mexico and impact the coast of Southern Louisiana," explained Joe Rue, NWS Tsunami Program Manager.

The United States started efforts to plan ahead for the nation's coastlines, following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. That mega-tsunami killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries.

"So, they started to do some research off of the Gulf Of Mexico and they found a credible threat, it may be a low probability but still a very credible threat," Rua said.

A similar situation in Newfoundland, Canada, an area with the same percentage chance of a tsunami as Louisiana. An underwater earthquake caused a landslide, resulting in the 1929 tsunami that left 28 people dead, hundreds homeless and one million dollars in property damage.

Speaking in Gulf of Mexico terms, Rua said "This kind of high impact event could leave damage to different marinas, ship channels and even possible loss of life."

The drill offered visuals of how a tsunami could make landfall in two hours, before overtaking areas such as Grand Isle, St. Mary Parish and the Vermilion Bay. A steadfast emergency plan of action is not readily available for the state, but Rua said this is the first step.

"Tsunamis are rare, but let's still prepare."

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