Biggest Quake Since 1964 Triggers Evacuations On Alaska Coast. Tsunami Warning Called Off

Alaska Just Dodged The Tsunami Bullet. But That Doesn't Mean It Can't Happen Again A few "historic" signs are all that'...

Alaska Just Dodged The Tsunami Bullet. But That Doesn't Mean It Can't Happen Again


A few "historic" signs are all that's left of Old Town Valdez. (File photo, Country Journal) 

There was a tsunami advisory in the very early morning hours of July 29th, 2021 – after a large 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Aleutian Chain on Wednesday. This recent event was the biggest quake in Alaska since the Great Alaska Good Friday Earthquake of 1964, which was the second largest ever recorded in modern history, anywhere on earth.
Portage ruin in wake of the 1964 quake. (File photo, Country Journal) 

People all over the Pacific coast are very aware of the dangers of tidal waves. When the huge 9.2 quake shook Alaska, over 130 people died. In Valdez alone, at the end of the Richardson Highway south of the Copper River Valley, 32 people were killed. 

The small village of Chenega lost 23 of its 68 residents to a massive tidal wave on Good Friday, 1964. 

This time around, Alaskans still know the deadly power of quakes. They know that dead trees, killed by salt water, still stand in the woods at the end of Cook Inlet, 60 years later. They can see the stark, gray ancient "ghost trees" as they barrel on by into the Kenai Peninsula, headed toward Seward and Homer every summer. 

They know the town of Portage, near Girdwood, was destroyed. They know that Valdez was decimated and had to be moved, leaving a flat "historic site." And that Seward's old wooden docks are nothing now but a couple of interesting-looking posts, jutting out of the water.

Tsunami evacuation sign. (File photo, Country Journal) 

Today, you can't help but notice the tsunami evacuation "exit signs" posted along the highway in coastal Alaskan towns. 

The Homer Spit is at sea level. (File photo, Country Journal)

So it's no surprise that a long line of cars poured off the Homer Spit the night of July 28th and morning of the 29th. This summer, the spit has been crammed with tourists for weeks. Many of them are Alaskans. 

The elementary and high schools in both Kodiak and Homer were opened up as shelters, and people rushed to higher ground. Just in case. 

Fortunately, the July 28th quake did not trigger a full tsunami, and an all-clear was given. This time, Alaska dodged the bullet. But, as we know from the Good Friday Quake, and more recent terrible tsunamis in Japan and Thailand, this is not a hazard you can ignore. 


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