Coastal residents need better education about tsunamis: ExpertsSeptember 18th, 2010 - 4:22 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Sep 18 (ANI): The ability of the US to detect and forecast tsunami may have improved in the last efforts, but the current efforts are still not enough to meet the challenges posed by the tsunamis generated near land that leave little time for warning, it has emerged.
A new report from the National Research Council has called for a comprehensive national assessment of tsunami risk and improved communication and coordination among the two federal Tsunami Warning Centers, emergency managers, media, and the public.
“For a tsunami warning system to be effective, it must operate flawlessly, and emergency officials must coordinate seamlessly and communicate clearly,” said John Orcutt, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
“However, if a large earthquake near shore triggers a tsunami, it could reach the coast within minutes, allowing hardly any time to disseminate warnings and for the public to react.
Education and preparation are necessary to ensure that people know how to recognize natural cues — such as earthquake tremors or receding of the water line — and take appropriate action, even if they do not receive an official warning,” he said.
At the request of Congress for a review of the nation’s tsunami efforts, the report finds many enhancements have been made since 2004, including an increase in the amount and quality of hazard and evacuations maps and the expansion of the Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) sensor network that indicates the size of tsunamis.
There have also been improvements in coastal sea-level stations and the Global Seismic Network operated and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation.
However, improvements to the DART network’s reliability, station coverage, and operations are needed.
To gauge how to prioritize efforts, the report has recommended first completing a comprehensive risk assessment that characterizes the hazards, inventories the threatened populations and assets, measures the preparedness and ability of individuals and communities to successfully evacuate, and estimates expected losses.
Tsunami education and preparation could also be improved by undertaking periodic and comprehensive vulnerability assessments, establishing a review strategy and leadership chain for post-tsunami events, and creating new tsunami detection techniques and analyses.
The committee determined that the likelihood of individuals responding appropriately to tsunami warnings increases if they receive consistent, clear, and accurate warning messages from the two Tsunami Warning Centers (TWCs), stationed in Alaska and Hawaii, and local and state emergency managers.
Operating under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, the TWCs monitor seismic activity and sea levels to detect tsunamis and warn emergency managers in their respective regional “areas of responsibility.
“However, even though the TWCs issue the warning messages, they cannot order evacuations because they are part of the federal government,” report stated
Although multiple, consistent tsunami warning messages increase public responsiveness, the organizational model of two TWCs is problematic because the two sets of warnings often conflict, causing confusion among the media, some local officials, and the public.
Significant changes need to occur in the management, operations, software and hardware architecture, and organizational culture for the two to become functionally redundant. (ANI)
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Tags: better education, coastal residents, coastal sea, dart sensor, deep ocean, earthquake tremors, emergency managers, emergency officials, global seismic network, institution of oceanography, john orcutt, large earthquake, national science foundation, scripps institution of oceanography, sensor network, station coverage, tsunami efforts, tsunami risk, tsunami warning system, u s geological survey