Lt. Col. Noel Luneau
San Francisco Bay Group 2
“This is a test of the Civil Air Patrol public address system” boomed from the sky along three northern California counties’ coastlines when the California Wing tested its airborne speakers in two flights conducted as part of a National Weather Service tsunami warning communications test.
The wing dispatched aircraft from Concord and Santa Rosa to fly along the coasts of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties.. A third aircraft launched from Livermore acted as a command and control platform for radio relays between the two broadcasting aircraft and the virtual mission base.
The test was conducted to educate residents and visitors along the coast to one of the many ways they may receive warnings of an impending tsunami.
“A tsunami could occur along the California coast caused by a large earthquake anywhere in the Pacific Ocean,” said Ryan Aylward, a National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist . ”A tsunami originating from Japan would give approximately 11 hours of advance warning or four hours from Alaska.“For distant-source events like these the Civil Air Patrol can be an excellent asset to warn the public.”
The aerial alert system was designed to warn members of the public who might not otherwise receive emergency alerts. In addition to the airborne system, counties and the National Weather Service used the Emergency Alert System, telephone notification systems, a network of coastal sirens, law enforcement and other emergency services personnel to notify residents to head for higher ground.
Aircrews from NorCal Group 5 and San Francisco Bay Group 2 trained on the alert system for two weekends before the exercise.
Maj. Jeffrey Ironfield, incident commander trainee and the wing's assistant emergency services training officer, said it’s important to try out the system regularly to ensure both aircrews and the public react quickly and appropriately to an emergency.
Photos by Lt. Col. Noel Luneau, San Francisco Bay Group 2