All National Weather Service offices along the West Coast, from Alaska to California, will participate in a test of the Tsunami Warning System. The purpose of the exercise is to test the communication system that would notify citizens, mariners and government agencies of an approaching tsunami wave, said Tyree Wilde, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office in Portland.

Wilde said Clatsop County residents should hear the test on local radio stations around 10:45 Wednesday morning. The EAS (Emergency Alert System) will be activated at that time, he said. The test will also go out over NOAA Weather Radio.

Wilde said a real tsunami alert is designed to give coastal residents a chance to escape a tsunami headed their way. A tsunami, formerly called a tidal wave, is a huge wall of water that can be generated by an earthquake at a distant location, such such as Japan. The killer wave can take several hours to reach land, giving residents time to evacuate.

Scientists throughout the world are studying tsunamis, which, because they don't happen very often, are not as well understood as hurricanes and earthquakes. The National Weather Service operates a tsunami warning center in Palmer, Alaska to track tsunamis along the West Coast. And last year, the largest tsunami simulation tank in the world, the Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, opened at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Wilde said a Web site has been set up to gather feedback on Wednesday's tsunami alert test. It's (www.tsunami.gov/test)

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