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There’s a 15 percent chance this will happen in the next 50 years

A tsunami warning siren is installed in April 2017 in Birch Bay.
A tsunami warning siren is installed in April 2017 in Birch Bay. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom County will get another tsunami warning siren next year as part of a nearly $700,000 federal grant that will fund several coastal preparedness projects across Washington state, officials said Friday.

Exact location of the new local warning siren wasn’t determined.

Such preparedness efforts are necessary because seismologists predict there’s a 15 percent chance of a magnitude 9 earthquake or greater on the Cascadia Subduction Zone within the next 50 years, officials said.

Whatcom County’s new siren will join those installed earlier this year in Blaine and Birch Bay, along with existing sirens in Sandy Point, Point Roberts and Lummi Nation, which has two. A siren will be installed at the Port of Bellingham on Nov. 14, for a total of seven in the county.

Money comes from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, said Steven Friederich, spokesman for the Washington Emergency Management Division.

Grant-funded projects also will support new tsunami evacuation and/or hazard zone signs in tsunami threatened communities. The grant covers the signs and local jurisdictions will pay for installation.

In addition, the grant will fund statewide educational programs, building evacuation guidelines, and publication of inundation models for the Washington outer coast, Strait of Juan de Fuca and northern Puget Sound.

There’s also funding for a tsunami hazard assessment “modeling” of the northern Whatcom County coastline based on an earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Current tsunami inundation and evacuation maps are at geologyportal.dnr.wa.gov. Sunday is World Tsunami Awareness Day.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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