Tsunami Warning Program

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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) is one of two tsunami warning centers that are operated by NOAA in the United States. Headquartered in ‘Ewa Beach, Hawaii, the PTWC is part of an international tsunami warning system (TWS) program and serves as the operational center for TWS of the Pacific issuing bulletins and warnings to participating members and other nations in the Pacific Ocean area of responsibility. It is also the regional (local) warning center for the State of Hawaii.[1]

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) is the second of the two tsunami warning centers. Headquartered in Palmer, Alaska, the WCATWC is part of an international tsunami warning system (TWS) program and serves as the operational center for TWS of all coastal regions of Canada and the United States, except Hawai’i, the Caribbean & Gulf Of Mexico.[2]

Alerting the Public

Tsunami Message Map[5]
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Local populations in the United States of America receive tsunami information through radio and television receivers connected to the Emergency Alert System, and in some places (such as Hawaii) civil defense sirens and roving loudspeaker broadcasts from police vehicles.

The public can subscribe to the RSS feed or email alerts from the PTWC web site. Email and text messages are also available from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service which includes tsunami alerts.[3]

To get more information about tsunamis worldwide, visit the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission – Tsunami Program website.[4]

Tsunami Watch or Warning NWS Procedures

Upon receipt of tsunami watches and warnings, coastal National Weather Service (NWS) offices, activate the Emergency Alert System (EAS) via NOAA Weather Radio. All broadcasters (TV, AM/FM radio, cable TV) receive the tsunami EAS message simultaneously as well as those with weather radio receivers in homes, businesses, schools, health care facilities, etc. NOAA Weather Radio also activates the All-Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) units located in remote coastal areas, alerting people in those isolated locations.

Upon receipt of tsunami watch and warning messages, local emergency management officials can decide to activate the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to evacuate low-lying coastal areas in advance of the initial tsunami wave. Their EAS messages are also received by broadcasters, weather radio receivers and All Hazard Alert Broadcasts (AHABs) to help provide widespread dissemination of these messages. Follow the directions provided by your area emergency management officials – they will help save your life and those of your loved ones.[6]

 


References:

  1. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) (responsible for all American interests in the Pacific, including Hawaii) – Website: http://ptwc.weather.gov/index.php
  2. West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) (responsible for coastal waters from Alaska to California, including Washington) – Website: http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/
  3. USGS Earthquake & Tsunami Notification Service – https://sslearthquake.usgs.gov/ens/
  4. UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission – Tsunami Program – Website: http://www.ioc-tsunami.org/
  5. Image Source: http://ptwc.weather.gov/ [Accessed September 15, 2013]
  6. NOAA Tsunami Education: http://www.tsunami.noaa.gov/warning_system_works.html

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