Tsunami poses risk to almost 100,000 on West CoastAlmost 100,000 people along the U.S. Pacific Northwest coastline are living in the path of a potentially deadly tsunami similar to the one that hit Japan four years ago. But researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Colorado Boulder, and California State University, Sacramento found that 77 percent of those communities in California, Oregon and Washington probably would have the necessary 15 to 25 minutes to reach higher ground and escape the monster waves. Their odds improve with tsunami education, institution of evacuation drills and a speedy response. Those communities that are far from high ground – mostly a cluster of towns in southern Washington – should consider investing in escape towers or other structures that could provide a safe haven, the researchers said. “All coastal communities in the U.S. Pacific Northwest are vulnerable to varying degrees to tsunami hazards from a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake,” said Nathan Wood, a scientist with the USGS and lead author of a new study. “Having a better sense of how a community is specifically vulnerable provides officials with the ability to develop outreach, preparedness, and evacuation plans that are tailored to local conditions and needs.” The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined 73 communities along 700 miles of coastline in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.The area has drawn increasing attention and concern in recent years because of the Cascadia subduction zone, a megathrust fault off the coast where two plates of the Earth’s crust go underneath North America. Geological records showed that more than 41 earthquakes of 8.2 magnitude or better have hit the area in the past 10,000 years. MORE