Tsunami from the Atlantic Ocean VS the Eastern U.S.
Yes, a huge tsunami could strike the United States and the damage and deaths would be devastating. The East Coast may be more used to hurricanes with lower height waves, but nonetheless, the east coast is still at risk of suffering an intense, massive waves and flooding. In fact, the waves could be as high as several hundred feet and would be barreling upon the land at hundreds of miles an hour. The right tsunami would easily affect the entire east, from Maine all the way down to Florida. Most of the eastern coast has a very low sea level, which will intensify the tragedy, damage and fatality rate. In fact, a lot of the coastline terrain happens to be very flat too, making a natural, unstoppable flooding inland. Tsunamis are one of the most dangerous natural disasters which exist and have been responsible for an unbelievable death toll. Just recently, two tsunamis claimed nearly a quarter of a million lives…and occurred within just 7 years of one another. These tsunamis occurred very recently, the first in the Indian Ocean (230,000 dead) and the second on the coast of Japan (19,000 dead).
What Causes a Tsunami?
It is important to be prepared if you live even remotely close to the coastline, as a tsunami can happen anywhere there is water. Tsunamis are not purely random…everything in the universe is a reaction to some cause, somewhere. In other words, there is always an instigation event which triggers a tsunami. Sometimes that trigger event is something like an asteroid impact (click here to learn more about asteroid impacts with Earth and learn how to survive an asteroid impact, including the tsunami that follows). Other times, tsunamis are caused from earthquakes on the ocean floor (which is part of the reason an asteroid causes multiple tsunamis and a chain of waves, as the impact always creates an earthquake). Underwater landslides and volcanic eruptions are also very common instigation events. Still, the most powerful tsunamis arise from earthquakes deep under the ocean waters on the seabed.
What Would Happen if a Tsunami Struck the East Coast?
Currently, more than a third of the United States resides on the east coast and all of them would be affected. Tsunamis are very powerful and originate in the sea to build up a 500 miles an hour force. Many hurricanes have struck the east coast throughout history and many even in recent times, proving that the east coast is entirely unprepared to deal with flooding and water damage. Waves that reach several hundred feet in height and travel at several hundred miles an hour would be so destructive not even the biggest buildings would survive in their entirety. Some suggest no above ground building would survive at all.
Tsunamis are absolutely possible on the east coast and there are a number of places where they could originate, which would change the outcome greatly for different regions. One common worry arises from the Caribbean, where likely earthquakes will most reasonably send wave energy throughout the east coast proportional to the magnitude of the earthquake. It is possible for what is known as a “mega tsunami” with waves higher than 165 feet to rise from the Caribbean region. The vast Atlantic Ocean is another likely originating region. Though in the Atlantic, the initiating event would be a massive asteroid impact. These waves could get higher than 400 feet in height and be a most destructive cataclysm. The Canary Islands host a volcano called Hierro, which is potentially threatening to the east coast United States. The US will see a very threatening tsunami on the east shore board in about six hours following the eruption of Hierro.
Truth is, the west coast is just as at risk when it comes to these enormous, mythical waves; California for example only requires an earthquake measuring a 9.0 on the Richter magnitude scale on the right fault line to suffer a tsunami. Additionally, the west worries about the Pacific Ocean suffering an asteroid impact just the same as the east does in the Atlantic. In Chile, Easter Island is at risk of massive earthquakes known to instigate tsunamis. These tsunamis absolutely destroy the pacific islands.
How to Prepare for and Survive a Tsunami (on the East Coast)
The authorities cannot be relied upon to shield, evacuate or protect the citizens residing in the threatened regions. For one, it is not possible for the states to shelter and save all affected residences, if any (literally the states are not equipped to handle tsunami events and have no adequate shelters). For two, the evacuation plans are insufficient for survival. Florida is notoriously known for supporting evacuation plans including “high ground”, when there is in fact no higher ground in Florida…one would have to exit the state. The notice would be too soon and people would not be able to evacuate in enough time. This means, if you live on the east coast, a plan is absolutely necessary for each individual and family. In order to survive, each family needs to look out for themselves and not look to the state for a secret “survive the tsunami” coupon that does not exist. Such a thing would not be realistic if it did exist.
Surviving a tsunami on the east coast of the United States is much harder than other regions of the world. This is because the sea level is so low that it intensifies the destruction of the tsunami and flooding. Survival would require either an extremely fast evacuation inland, with an advanced notice that basically does not exist for the common citizen in modern times…and still high ground would be necessary; or a submarine-style underground facility equipped to handle underwater life for months (or a submarine / boat itself is an alternative survival plan). An adequate fallout shelter would require a number of special technologies and has no room for any weak points.
Unfortunately, the low sea level makes digging for basements not only ill-advised, but impossible. Basements on the east coast flood and are not able to be built on many of the regions and residencies. Therefore, a part-submerged fallout shelter will need to be built, with the floor plan spread out much wider to accommodate for the lower ceiling heights. Part of the facility will need to be above ground (roughly half of it), to avoid having any flooding leaking into the shelter even during its construction. Additionally, the top of the facility should be smooth, rounded, and encourage flowing water to flow. The roof should not be restrictive to the flow of water, combative, provide resistance or unnatural channeling….all of the water from the tsunami to the tidal waves to the basic flooding that remains a while after, should flow naturally around the roof, to avoid creating any additional life-threatening problems. Flooding is a unique problem in that it isolates the underground fallout shelter from the world entirely. Normally a fallout shelter can slack a little when it comes to producing necessary water and air to the facility occupants by using sophisticated and disguised intake and exhaust piping (with the appropriate filers and purifiers for the particular system being build) strategically placed in the roof or routed nearby with all the appropriate valves. During a tsunami, the fallout shelter must survive a greater level of self-sufficiency.
Tsunamis seem mythical, almost like a fairy tale in a way. The civilizations which have suffered from tsunamis never thought it would truly happen to them in their lifetime, yet it did. If you live on the coastline, it is best to be prepared at all times. Start building your underwater-capable underground fallout shelter or modify a boat or submarine and survive the tsunami!
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