Wednesday, December 07, 2005

RIDING OUT THE WAVE

The Seattle Times reports on a new analysis of the possible severity of a tsunami off the coast of Washington and Oregon

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002668973_tsunami07m.html

based partly on analysis of the Sumatran tsunami last December and partly on computer modeling by the University of Rhode Island.

While accepted analyses - analyses upon which evacuation plans are premised - predict waves no higher than 30 feet, the new computer models predict waves of 65 to 98 feet in places along the Washington and Oregon coasts.

Such a tsunami would not only overwhelm many of the evacuation "safe sites" but also would make it practically impossible for people to reach higher ground further inland in time. If a major quake along the Cascadia subduction zone triggers a tsunami, the coastal residents will have about a half of an hour to reach safety.

Just thinking out loud: If it isn't possible to evacuate, and assuming it is accepted the threat is real, why not build shelters?

As a technical challenge, this is small potatos. Ships like naval destroyers - big, but not huge - often endure waves that entirely overtop them. There have been cases where such vessels have been rolled completely over and survived with little damage. All that would be required would be a stout, watertight, and well-anchored structure equipped as any emergency shelter intended for limited duration occupancy. They would also be mighty handy in any earthquake, fire, or terrorist attack.

For that matter, decommisioned ships or subs could be adapted... Armaments optional...

Stop snickering. A lot of money was spent during the cold war on bomb shelters never needed. A lot of money was spent on the New Orleans dikes, and after the fact it's been seen not nearly enough was spent: The losses exceed the cost of even the most lavish proposals.

In this case, the "losses" could include thousands of citizens drowned. What's the cost of that?

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