Quick reversal on tsunami alert calms fears, quells backlash

Communicators can learn from Alaska emergency services, which swiftly retracted a warning for the West Coast following a major earthquake.

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One way to preserve your reputation is to admit when you are wrong—right away.

National Weather Service officials worked just as hard to take back their words as they did to spread the alarm after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake off the Alaskan coast triggered fears of a tsunami.

The Washington Post reported:

At its height, a warning was in effect for more than 3,000 miles of coastal zones north of the Washington border: British Columbia and Alaska’s entire southern shoreline including the Aleutian Islands. The National Weather Service sent messages to cellphones in Alaska with the message: “Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland.”

“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

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