Mar 24, 2011 9:36 PM by Steve Adamson

A closer look at local tsunami inundation maps

Tsunami inundation maps prepared by the California Geological Survey paint a startling picture of a worst-case scenario on our coastline. That scenario is the kind of large-scale tsunami that might not occur for hundreds of years.

Penny Villalba is still repairing her Oceano property that flooded during December's heavy rains. Her property also sits in the danger zone on the state's tsunami inundation maps. Those maps show which parts of the coastline are most likely to flood during a major tsunami.

"That's really, really frightening," said Villalba. "I have to look at, you know there's a big, long, wide coastline here, so you have to be prepared. I'm glad for early warning."

The higher you are above sea level, the lower your risk, but there are other factors.

"Typically, the larger the magnitude of the quake, the larger the resultant tsunami, all else being held equal," said Brian Zelenke, an oceanographer with the Center of Coastal Marine Sciences, "but it is very important to consider the depth of the ocean where the earthquake occurred."

So how might the Central Coast fare in a severe tsunami?

The maps show Morro Bay High School could flood along with parts of Morro Rock. In Oceano, the airport and surrounding homes are in the tsunami inundation area. In Santa Barbara, the entire airport and parts of the UCSB campus are at risk.

However, at Diablo Canyon the maps show tsunami floodwaters staying away from the nuclear power plant, which sits atop an 85-foot cliff.

The best advice to survive a tsunami is simple. When the shaking stops, get to higher ground as fast as you can.

You can go online to find out if your home is in the inundation area and to get more tips on preparing for a tsunami.

Just visit the Newslinks section of ksby.com.


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