A catastrophic tsunami slammed the west coast approximately 7,000-8,000 years ago. A massive landslide at the bottom of the Norwegian Sea called the Storegga Slide generated a powerful tsunami that spread to near and distant shores.
The tsunami's height peaked at 11-12 metres--higher than a four-storey building--around Sula, just north of Bergen. The outer islands around Bergen and Tromsø experienced smaller waves, reaching only 3-4 metres. That is still far higher than a bungalow, packing enough force to smash through most houses.
Archaeologists suppose that many Stone Age coastal settlements were wiped out. Storegga Slide tsunami deposits lie just above one on Harøy, near Kristiansund. It would have been an epic calamity for survivors.
Imagine a similar event today. A new Storegga Slide might not be realistic, because the landslide material was likely underwater deposits from the last ice age, which have now slipped into more stable positions.
However, a Norwegian Sea or North Sea tsunami could be generated by a different underwater landslide, or by a meteorite striking the water. It might not be as big as Storegga was, but it would still be destructive, especially because many more people now inhabit the tsunami inundation areas.
People living in affected areas should not expect immediate help. It will take time for aid to reach them. The best way would be for them to prepare now to be isolated for 1-2 weeks after a major disaster, whether that be a tsunami or something else.
Know the floodable areas and escape routes. Store and periodically check non-perishable food (plus utensils!), bottled water, wind-up torches and radios, and first aid supplies in safe locations.
Electricity and phone networks are not likely to work. Emergency stores should include ways of generating heat and light without an external power supply or an open flame, such as light sticks.
Communities should work together to identify particularly vulnerable people and to ensure that everyone has a family emergency plan for helping themselves.
Tsunami or not, you can still be prepared!
Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).
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