Study: better coordination needed in tsunami warnings

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach
West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska
West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska
Stuart Weinstein
Stuart Weinstein

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 266-page study urges the tsunami warning centers in Hawaii and Alaska to get on the same page.

"Anything that will increase our effectiveness and better serve the public has to be viewed as a positive," said Stuart Weinstein, associate director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

But the study can be taken as a partially negative review of tsunami safety.

The report by the National Research Council said in 2005, Alaska's center warned California of a tsunami threat while Hawaii said there was no tsunami hazard in the Pacific. They both were correct but it caused confusion on the West Coast.

The study said there needs to be uniformity between the centers.

"While we do basically the same things, we do them a little differently," Weinstein said.

The report criticized Hawaii's handling of the February tsunami event, saying many people didn't know where to evacuate to other than to higher ground.

Weinstein said some of that responsibility rests with the public. He urged them to do their tsunami homework.

"When the alarm goes off that's not the time for residents in the state of Hawaii to figure out what they need to do," he said.

The study said an effective tsunami warning system must operate flawlessly, coordinate seamlessly, and communicate clearly.

It suggests that during tsunami events, Alaska and Hawaii issue a single message.

it also raised the notion of combining the centers under one roof. Weinstein believes two centers are safer.

"God forbid that anything would adversely affect a unified center. Then you run the risk of a single point of failure," he said.

The Research Council urged changes in the way the tsunami centers are managed.

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