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PTWC: Key tsunami warning system offline for days, hindering ability to retrieve critical data

Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 10:25 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center confirmed Tuesday that a system containing critical information on water levels has been down for several days.

The Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis — also known as DART — system has been offline since March 9 due to a “facilities issue,” PTWC officials said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said a water pipe burst at its Maryland headquarters, causing widespread flooding and knocking out data transmission. NOAA added it currently doesn’t have a backup system.

DART consists of nearly 40 buoys and seafloor pressure recorders that contain critical information on rising water levels from all over the world.

In the Pacific, there’s one west of Kailua-Kona and another near Samoa.

The buoys were not working on the 10th anniversary of the Japan tsunami and earthquake last week. But PTWC officials said the system was online when Hawaii was under a tsunami watch following a large earthquake off New Zealand on March 4.

NOAA said engineers are working to expedite a new backup system. They were poised to implement a new backup system before the outage, but it had not been completed yet.

Data is available in “test mode” and international tsunami warning centers have access to DART data as of March 15 via the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Telecommunications System.

Officials do not have a timeline for when the full system will be back up and running.

This story will be updated.

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