Workers added finishing touches Thursday morning on the latest addition to the Edmonds waterfront – a state-of-the-art All Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) tsunami warning siren atop a 40-foot pole at the foot of Dayton Street adjacent to the fishing pier.
This is one of 121 such warning sirens being installed and funded by the state in high-risk locations throughout Washington’s inner and outer coastal areas. This map shows the locations for tsunami sirens as of Oct. 15, 2020 (Edmonds’ siren was just installed and so is not on the map).
According to the Washington Emergency Management Division, these sirens are intended as an outdoor alert for people on or near the beach who may not have access to other alerting methods. They have an audible range of approximately one mile which can vary depending on topography, wind direction, and physical barriers such as trees and buildings.
When an actual tsunami warning is issued, the sirens play a wailing sound (click here to listen to what it sounds like) followed by a voice message in English and Spanish instructing listeners to evacuate immediately to high ground.
To ensure the system is working properly, the state will conduct regular tests. Monthly testing will happen at noon on the first Monday of every month, when the siren will play a Westminster Chime (click here to listen to what it sounds like). The sirens are also tested once a year on the third Thursday in October with the actual wail sound in conjunction with the Great Washington ShakeOut. For this yearly test, the wail sound is followed by a voice message in English and Spanish explaining that it is only a test.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel