National Tsunami Warning Center, Palmer

4.2
The Palmer Observatory, under the auspices of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, was established in Palmer, Alaska in 1967 as a direct result of the great Alaskan earthquake that occurred in Prince William Sound on March 27, 1964. This earthquake alerted State and Federal officials that a facility was necessary to provide timely and effective tsunami warnings and earthquake information to the coastal areas of Alaska. Congress provided funds in 1965 to construct two new observatories and establish a tsunami warning system in Alaska. The first observatory constructed was at the U.S. Naval Station on Adak Island in the Andreanof Islands in the Central Aleutians. The City of Palmer, in the Matanuska Valley 42 miles northeast of Anchorage, was selected as the site for the primary observatory due to its proximity to bedrock for instrumentation and to communications facilities. Construction of the observatory installations, the task of engineering and assembling the data systems, and the hookup of the extensive telecommunications and data telemetry network was completed in the summer of 1967. With the dedication of the Palmer Observatory on September 2, 1967, the Alaska Regional Tsunami Warning System (ARTWS) became operational.

Originally, the tsunami warning responsibility for Alaska was shared by the three observatories located at Palmer, Adak and Sitka. Sitka, a seismological observatory since 1904, and Fairbanks were the only two seismic stations operating in Alaska in 1964. The responsibilities of Adak and Sitka were limited to issuing a tsunami warning for events occurring within 300 miles of their location. In later years, the responsibility to provide tsunami warning services for Alaska was transferred from the Adak and Sitka observatories to the Palmer Observatory. Sitka and Adak Observatories were eventually closed in the early 1990s, although the seismic instrumentation is still maintained.

In 1973, the Palmer Observatory was transferred to the National Weather Services Alaska Region and changed its name to Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (ATWC). In 1982, its area of responsibility (AOR) was enlarged to include the issuing of tsunami warnings to California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia for potential tsunamigenic earthquakes occurring in their coastal areas. In 1996, the responsibility was again expanded to include all Pacific-wide tsunamigenic sources that could affect the California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska coasts, and the name was changed to the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) to reflect those new responsibilities. October 1, 2013 the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center became the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC)

In 2003, a new Tsunami Warning Center building was constructed in the yard of the original building. This new facility was the first LEED certified building in the state of Alaska, and within the U.S. Department of Commerce. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is granted by the U.S. Green Building Council, and awards environmentally sensitive construction practices. This new facility provides upgraded power and communications capability, as well as office space for the expanded staff, assuring that the center will continue to provide quality products to the public well into the future.

Following the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami in late 2004, the NTWC expanded its scope to the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Atlantic coast of Canada.
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National Tsunami Warning Center Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
7 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • Just a splendid and informational tour that was very personal and face to face. The tour started in the conference room with several back to back videos followed by questions and answers, then proceed...  more »
  • As of this review, the Tsunami Warning Center offers public tours (no reservation needed) on Friday afternoons. I had a 9-hour layover at the Anchorage Airport and took the opportunity to rent a car a...  more »
Google
  • Very educational surpasses any expectation you could ever have. Tours on Friday only. Make sure you visit the conference room. Very cool stuff in there. And example is an earthquake measuring instrument.
  • Guide was very knowledgeable and gave a great tour. Don't touch anything and keep an eye on your kids, haha. Thanks again!

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