Kudos for sea level reporting | Letter

Kudos to Hayley Day and The Sounder for bringing up anthropogenic sea level rise and how it might affect Orcas. Ms. Day’s research uncovered that most waterfront property buyers are not concerned about property damage from sea level rise but are paying attention to immediate threats such as “erosion, tides, and storm damage.” Those who have been following the research on climate change for some time, or who are simply disillusioned students of human nature, were likely not surprised to hear this. Still, it’s good to bring this topic to as broad an audience as possible.

What did surprise me was that the article made no mention, even in passing, of the tsunami inundation risk posed to waterfront properties by the next Cascadia Subduction Zone megathrust earthquake. It made me wonder how many people are still not aware of this risk.

The 2013 paper “Tsunami Inundation Modeling of San Juan Islands due to a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake” by Edison Gica and other researchers at NOAA and The University of Washington warns of a tsunami wave reaching up to about five meters (16 feet) in East Sound and pushing water at speeds upwards of 15 (maybe 30?) knots in Wasp Passage, Harney Channel, and Obstruction Pass.

It would be interesting to see an article based on an interview with these researchers and representatives of OPALCO, Washington State Ferries, San Juan County, our various drinking water associations, and essential local businesses regarding plans for an M9.0 Cascadia earthquake.

Gregory C. Hancock