SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A massive undersea volcanic eruption near the Pacific nation of Tonga sparked a Tsunami Advisory for large swaths of the United States Saturday morning, and a scientist from San Diego was one of the leaders helping publish that information to the world.
Dr. Summer Ohlendorf is the Science Officer at the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center in Alaska. The San Diego native said they had been monitoring this volcano and as soon as they knew there was activity, she and her team jumped into action to share that information as quickly as possible.
“Packed up, headed in and was there for the next 18 hours monitoring these waves and helping team analyze where the threat was going to be, how people were going to be in danger and made sure we got out messages as best we could to everyone along the coast,” said Dr. Ohlendorf.
A Tsunami Advisory was in place for most of the west coast of the United States Friday, including San Diego County beaches.
She added that their team stays busy responding to earthquakes, but reflecting on the magnitude of these recent alerts, she knows this was a unique experience.
“It certainly was a banner day and I don’t expect to see anything this big quite like this for probably the rest of my career,” said Ohlendorf.
Ohlendorf was born and raised in San Diego. She graduated from the former University of San Diego High School, which later became Cathedral Catholic. This background makes her familiar with the area.
“Spent summers open water swimming in La Jolla so I’m very much a born and raised and have huge respect for everyone who plays on the coast because that was me.”