EMForum Presentation — March 19, 2014

The National Weather Service Tsunami Program
Then and Now

Rocky Lopes
Deputy Program Manager for Stakeholder Engagement
NOAA/National Weather Service Tsunami Program

Christa Rabenold
Mitigation Specialist
NOAA/National Weather Service Tsunami Program

Amy Sebring
EMForum Moderator

This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/NWS/TsunamiProgram.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm140319.wmv
MP3 format at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm140319.mp3 or in MP4format at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm140319.mp4

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to EMForum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Host and Moderator today and we are very glad you could join us.

Today’s topic marks the 50th Anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami, and the upcoming National Tsunami Preparedness Week which will run March 23rd through the 29th.  In particular we will learn about the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program and how our capabilities have evolved over time.
will be available early next week.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guests from the NTHMP:

Rocky Lopes is currently serving under contract as Deputy Program Manager for Stakeholder Engagement and his work involves all aspects of collaboration with state, tribal, territorial, commonwealth, and municipal emergency managers and scientists through active support of the NTHMP, the NTHMP Grants Program, and the TsunamiReady™ Program.

Christa Rabenold serves as Mitigation Specialist for the program.  She previously worked as a coastal management and hazards specialist with NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. You may also know her from the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she served as an editor for a time.

Please see today’s Background Page for further biographical details and links to related resources.

Welcome to you both, and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today. I now turn the floor over to Rocky to start us off please.


Rocky Lopes: Good afternoon, everyone.  I am Rocky Lopes and I’m pleased to be here with my colleague Christa Rabenold at the National Weather Service Tsunami Program where we serve at Weather Service Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland and support our tsunami stakeholders and other emergency management colleagues all over the country and from the Caribbean to the Pacific Islands and everywhere in between.

[Slide 2]

I want to begin today’s presentation giving a background about where we were and where we are regarding our nation’s tsunami warning system and capabilities.  It began in 1949 with the Honolulu Observatory which was known at the time as the Magnetic Observatory.

Our partners at the US Geological Survey developed a magnetics observatory and back in 1949 they used data sent via teletype from seismic observatories to provide the first notification about tsunamis that happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s.   As the program grew in 1964 just about fifty years ago, and Christa will talk more about this, we had the Great Alaska Earthquake and tsunamis—there were several tsunamis in 1964.

[Slide 3]

There were over 130 people killed and hundreds of people injured.  It devastated towns and localities throughout Alaska and it impacted other states’ US coastlines and Canada as well.  Following that destruction in 1964 they first created three tsunami centers in Alaska.  It later combined it into one tsunami center in Alaska.  

[Slide 4]

In 1968 they officially created from the original Honolulu Observatory to what is now known as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.  

[Slide 5]

The National Weather Service runs two tsunami warning centers that operate in similar ways.  What they do is collect and process data—I’ll explain what that data is—that provides notification about tsunamis that will impact two areas of responsibility.  You can see on this slide there are red and green indications.  

What it is saying it that the National Tsunami Warning Center which is the name of the warning center in Palmer, Alaska has an area of responsibility for the domestic United States coastline from Alaska all the way down through California and the East Coast and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has an area of responsibility for Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI and provides warning information that is used and processed by warning centers that serve other coastlines for other countries in the Pacific.

[Slide 6]

What is the tsunami warning system?  The tsunami warning system is a very complex and interesting method of getting information out to the public through emergency managers and other stakeholders to help us indicate what areas of the United States are at risk for inundation from a tsunami, how long it may last and giving instructions about what to do.

The tsunami warning system includes a tsunami warning center which requires tsunami related data.  It processes and analyzes that data and then issues it to emergency management organizations and the public.  The warning communications pathways are the second basic component of a warning system.  

Multiple robust communication pathways connect warning centers to coastal communities. So there are many redundancies built in so that if an earthquake knocks out primary communication channels there are other communication channels including satellite systems as indicated to get the information out.

Local emergency response organizations are the third tier of a tsunami warning system because they are the ones who respond to the warnings received and get the information out to the people who will be affected by the potential tsunami.

We have two kinds of tsunamis.  We have what is called a near source tsunami and that is, for example, if we have a rupture of the Cascadia fault zone off the U.S. west coast it can have a tsunami onshore within fifteen to twenty minutes.  We can have distant source tsunamis which we saw March eleventh, 2011 where a major earthquake of 9.0 magnitude occurred off the coast of Japan and produced a Pacific-wide tsunami. In either event tsunamis can impact the United States and we need to be ready.

[Slide 7]

There are two methods we use nowadays where we’ve been then and now.  We no longer use teletype.  We have instant communication systems using a virtual network collecting seismic data not only that is owned and deployed by the Weather Service but also by our partners particularly and those most of the U.S. Geological Survey.

There are multiple data paths that provide the seismic data.  The reason we rely on seismic data in particular is that tsunamis are most often generated by an earthquake although they may also be generated by other events such undersea landslides, a meteor strike into the ocean or a volcanic eruption undersea.  Any of those kind of events would be noted in the seismic network.

[Slide 8]

The seismic network is one of two systems that are used to process data for tsunamis.  We also have sea level data through a virtual network that relies on satellite data transmission.  It comes in many formats and instrument types including tide gages and DART buoys.  I wanted to explain a little more about what these DART buoys are.

[Slide 9]

They are strategically located around the oceans of the world and you are seeing a map now that indicates where they have been deployed.  There are currently thirty-nine DART buoys deployed in the world’s oceans.  Most of them are in the Pacific because that is the ocean in which most tsunamis have occurred but not all of them.

We have to remember December 26 of 2004 there was the Indian Ocean tsunami which impacted sixteen countries that bordered the Indian Ocean and resulted in over 200,000 deaths.  I wanted to show a video, if you can launch the video for me, Amy.

When a major earthquake occurs it disrupts the entire column of water in the ocean and that disruption propagates across the ocean sending waves and not just what you think of as typical ocean crashing waves, but it sends these pulses of energy or surges from the ocean floor to the surface of the ocean that propagate across the entire ocean floor.  Now we are seeing how that happens.  This is a demonstration of the propagation of the Japan tsunami.

[Japan Tsunami Propagation Video]

I wanted to bring it to that image you are seeing here just for a moment to visually describe and show you how the entire ocean is disrupted.  This is what an ocean wide tsunami really looks like when it is fully propagated from its source across the entire field of the ocean and it starts entering other oceans that border it as you can see  from south of Australia and west and north of Australia and from Central America down around the Horn of Africa.  

This best illustrates the phenomenon of tsunami and helps us understand that a tsunami is not just one crashing wave like “The Poseidon Adventure”, that some of us may remember, the movie that was popular in the seventies and eighties.  A tsunami is a whole disruption of the entire ocean of waves throughout and they reflect and refract as the tsunami waves encounter coastlines.

[Slide 10]

The Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) Buoy Network is what we rely on because these buoys detect the motion of the water column where these are strategically located in the oceans of the world.

[Slide 11]

The DART buoys as they are deployed provide satellite data back to the tsunami warning centers.  They indicate a lot of information about the warning centers interprets what the size and scope of the tsunami may be, the travel times when we may expect tsunamis to strike coastlines as well as the anticipated amplitude or wave height of the tsunamis.

The next video I wanted to show was the short one that describes how the DART buoys work.

[DART Buoy Video]

I thought that video provided the best overview of what a DART buoy is and we talked about the tsunami program then and now and this illustrates the now that has been deployed since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the lessons we have learned from that.

Prior to 2004 NOAA had deployed six DART buoys and as of today there are thirty-nine of them so major progress on their deployment and maintenance has been continued to be supported.  

[Slide 12]

I wanted to close my part of this webinar to describe a little about the National Weather Service Tsunami Program.  I’m not going to read all the data points on the slide you’re seeing but I’d mention that we have two warning centers.  The National Tsunami Warning Center was recently renamed.  It was formerly the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.  It remains in Palmer, Alaska and then the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

We also use observations which I described for you from the seismic and tide gage and DART buoy network.  We conduct research at the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab and the National Geodetic Data Center that provide a lot of very good information to help us maintain the cutting edge in the tsunami activities and serving the world through our international programs that are based at the International Tsunami Information Center in Hawaii and the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program in Puerto Rico and the International Activities office here at Weather Service Headquarters in Silver Springs.  

Finally the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program as well as our Weather Service Region’s Warning Coordination Meteorologist and Tsunami Ready program provides a great output of information, mitigation, education and outreach we support.  

[Slide 13]

I wanted to describe briefly the NTHMP (National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program) recently formed in 1995 and strengthened after the Indian Ocean tsunami and recognized by Congress—it is really through and involving our partners at the NTHMP which includes state, territories and commonwealths—twenty-nine of them that collaborate together on providing mapping and modeling information, strategies, structure, protocols, mitigation and education, consistency, accuracy, cutting edge capabilities as well as warning coordination.

It is one thing to have a warning system issue a warning.  It is quite something else to have that warning received, interpreted and provided to the people who need to get it on a very timely and immediate basis.  I know I have given very short time to the NTHMP but recognizing the work that is done on a day-to-day basis to save lives and protect property is done and we highly recognize and appreciate the people that we have on the ground in our states, territories and commonwealths.

[Slide 14]

They also serve to support the National Weather Service Tsunami Ready Program which is a recognition program that reduces the consequences of tsunamis in coastal areas.  As of today we have 164 Tsunami Ready sites in eleven states, commonwealths and territories.  

There are many activities to become Tsunami Ready recognized including developing a tsunami annex to response plans as emergency managers develop them, providing twenty-four seven notification coverage for tsunamis which in some small towns and villages can be difficult to have maintained on a twenty-four seven 365 days a year basis, provide outreach and education to help people understand what to do and how to respond as well as planning and preparedness.

I want to give a shout out to everyone who has supported the Tsunami Ready programs in your local communities because that is where the rubber meets the road and lives are saved and property is protected.  Now I want to turn it over to my colleague Christa Rabenold who will talk more about Tsunami Preparedness Week and where we are going with recognition for tsunami preparedness and outreach.

[Slide 15]

Christa Rabenold:  Thank you, Rocky and good afternoon, everyone.  This year marks the fifth Tsunami Preparedness Week formerly known as Tsunami Awareness Week.  That name may be familiar to some of you.  It was first recognized in March of 2010 in the wake of the tsunamis in Chile and American Samoa which both caused loss of life and property.  

[Slide 16]

This year’s Tsunami Preparedness week also commemorates the Great 1964 Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami also known as the Good Friday Earthquake because it happened on Good Friday that year.  Some quick stats about the event—it happened on March 27, 1964 at 5:36 PM.  It originated in Prince William Sound.

It was magnitude 9.2 making it the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States and the second largest in the world—second to the earthquake in Chile in 1946.  The shaking lasted for more than four minutes and multiple tsunamis were generated by the earthquake and associated submarine landslides.

I also have a propagation video to show you. This is like the one Rocky showed you of Japan. The graphic you’ll see when we go back to it is how the energy propagated out from the tsunami.

[AlaskaTsunami Propagation Video]

Video Commentary: At the top of the page you see the generation of the tsunami and how the energy is traveling from the point of origin.  You get the scope of how it impacted the entire ocean and how it traveled down the coast of the United States.  This was a big event and we don’t get a lot of tsunamis to commemorate so the fact that this is the fiftieth anniversary of this event and it is really something we should be paying a lot of attention to and using it to promote the importance of tsunami preparedness.

That gives you a sense of how large it was.  The picture here shows the energy, red being the strongest—you can see how it went down the west coast of the United States and Canada.

[Slide 17]

The next slide gets into some of the impacts of the tsunami.  Valdez, Anchorage and many villages along the Alaskan coast including Seward and Whittier were significantly damaged or destroyed by the tsunamis.  One hundred thirty lives were lost in Alaska, Oregon and California and there was additional damage on the west coast of the United States, Canada and Hawaii—the greatest in Crescent City, California.

That damage happened about 4.1 hours after the quakes so if we had a more efficient warning system in place at the time we could have avoided some of the loss of life that happened there.  Thirteen people were killed in Crescent City.  The damage from the tsunamis alone was approximated at a billion dollars and that is in today’s dollars.

[Slide 18]

It is great we have that event to commemorate during the Tsunami Preparedness Week—it makes it a more forceful message when you can tie it back to the reality of how the United States has been impacted by tsunamis in the past.  Tsunami Preparedness Week is March 23 through 29 and that is next week.  

It is coordinated with the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program partners that Rocky mentioned previously.  We did through the Tsunami Preparedness Week planning team.  We had representatives from the federal agencies we planned with as well as the states and territories.  

We talked about what each other was doing to promote the event and we created a website that had some of those activities as well as links to general information to help people learn more about tsunamis and tsunami preparedness.

[Slide 19]

This slide shows some examples of some of the activities that are being conducted during Tsunami Preparedness Week.  This includes tsunami warning tests.  There are live code tests in both coastal Alaska and California.  There are monthly tests in other parts of California.  There are a number of tsunami exercises planned for next week.

I left one off—the Weather Service exercises.  Briefly I’ll talk about those.  The Weather Service is leading three tsunami exercises next week—one for the Caribbean and Northwest Atlantic, one for the Gulf of Mexico and one for the Pacific Coast.  The purpose of these exercises is to improve the effectiveness of the tsunami warning system.

They provide an opportunity for emergency management organizations to test their operational lines of communication, review their tsunami response procedures and promote tsunami preparedness.  Emergency management organizations are invited to participate at varying levels ranging from drills to full scale exercises.

There is the Alaska Shield and Capstone 2014.  Alaska Shield is an exercise based on the 1964 event and is being led by the Alaska division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  NOAA has provided significant modeling and warning support for this exercise.

In recognizing the significance of the event and importance of the exercise FEMA has incorporated Alaska Shield into its Capstone Exercise 2014 which is a complex national level emergency preparedness exercise which brings together federal, state, local, tribal and private sector and other officials and representatives to assess the nation’s collective preparedness for a large scale disaster.

Finally there are exercises built on the SAFRR scenario (Science Application For Risk Reduction).  They do a number of projects.  The one I’m going to mention in particular is the tsunami scenario that was released last September that the USDS created in partnership with the California Geological Survey and California OES and NOAA as well as others.

The scenario was based on a plausible earthquake of a magnitude of 9.1 off the Alaska Peninsula that creates a tsunami that strikes Southern California.  A number of communities in Southern California are going to be conducting exercises of varying levels based on this scenario.

Other exercises and drills are also planned in a couple of coastal communities.  Some of these include the Great Alaskan Shakeout and San Francisco is doing a tabletop and a three-day functional exercise.  There are tsunami walks which may not be new activities but are strengthened this year by the creation of a tsunami walk template designed by USDS SAFRR scientist and the template was designed to help groups organize public safety drills and it emphasizes doing these drills during Tsunami Preparedness Week.

A tsunami walk is a drill that stresses simplicity and fun and is suitable for coastal residents and visitors.  Walking participants learn about tsunami danger zones and safe zones as they walk from one to the other which establishes a visual memory that boosts tsunami awareness.

In terms of tsunami preparedness events a number of things are planned for this week that includes open house at the National Tsunami Warning Center.  A number of tsunami ready recognition ceremonies including one today in Cordova, Alaska so that 164 number Rocky gave you is going to be going up in the next week.

There is a ribbon cutting event in Del Norte County, California to celebrate the first tsunami resistant harbor in the Western Hemisphere.  The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is hosting an evening panel discussion focusing on the SAFRR scenario in tsunami preparedness.  The Exploratorium in San Francisco is hosting a lab and lunch which is a lunchtime event preparing for a tsunami, the science behind tsunamis and how we predict them.

In Oregon the Office of Emergency Management is offering free workshops on earthquake and tsunami preparedness for vulnerable populations.  In Washington state they are providing tsunami public education instructor train the trainer courses for five coastal tribes.  That is just an example of the activities planned for next week.

There are also a host of events that are planned to commemorate the Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunamis and this includes an event at the Anchorage Museum—“Remembering the Great Quake” which includes a number of guest speakers and an open microphone for survivors and will kick off a summer long event that will include additional events and a display at the museum.

At Crescent City, California which I mentioned was also heavily impacted by the tsunami they will be hosting walking tours of historic points of interest relative to the tsunami.

[Slide 20]

These are examples of printed materials that demonstrate state and local support for tsunami preparedness and Tsunami Preparedness Week.  Here is the template for the tsunami walk poster. The templates are all available on the tsunami preparedness website which we will give to you at the end of the presentation.  Templates can be crafted.  As you see we have logos here on the side.  There are blank templates.  You can move them as you see fit.  

I thought it was interesting to show you a pamphlet for Maine’s tsunami awareness so you can see that even the Atlantic coast where the risk isn’t as high as the Pacific coast—they still recognize they have a risk and want to educate the public.  Here is a flyer for the Crescent City historic walking tour next week.

[Slide 21]

I couldn’t let the discussion go without talking about tsunami preparedness is.  Rocky described how the tsunami warning centers work but they can only be effective when people know what to do in response to a warning.  It is this kind of outreach that is essential to Tsunami Preparedness Week.  

Here is an example—the official tsunami warning messages come either as information statements, watches, advisories or warnings.  The official messages will provide some information about action to be taken.  Simply here we say in the information statement there really isn’t much you need to do.  If it is a watch, stay tuned.

In an advisory get off the beach and get out of the water.  In a warning this is where you need to take action—run for high ground and follow emergency instruction.

[Slide 22]

In the case of a local tsunami, or as Rocky described a near source tsunami there may not be time for an official warning or the communication structure may have been disabled by an earthquake. It is critical that people recognize and respond to natural tsunami warnings as well as official warnings.  Natural warnings include a strong earthquake, a sudden rise or fall of the ocean and a loud roaring sound from the ocean.

This is the commonly used graphic that illustrates how to respond when a strong quake is felt near the coast.  I put some examples here of signs people may see in their communities that tell them where to go and where they may be safe.

[Slide 23]

I’m going to wrap up this discussion with a bunch of links we think are useful to people and the type of information you can find there.  The tsunami warnings website has information from both warning centers.  There is a whole host of tsunami information available at the tsunami.noaa.gov website.

Tsunami Ready talks about the program Rocky introduced.  Tsunami Preparedness Week has its own website which has links to these other sites as well.  If you only remember one website from this presentation it could be that one.  We have a link to more information about the 1964 event and to some information about tsunami awareness and safety.  Finally we have a link to the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.

[Slide 24]

That’s all we had to say today.  Amy, I’m going to hand this over to you.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Christa and Rocky.  We can easily see the tremendous progress made, even since 2004.  We will move to the Q&A portion.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

James Warren: How much advance notice of an approaching tsunami can be given?  

Rocky Lopes:  That’s a good question and thanks for that.  We first say that your first warning, especially if it is a near source tsunami is that you will likely feel the earth shaking under your feet.  You may notice the ocean is behaving oddly and it may be making an unusual roaring sound.  These are all nature’s cues.

If you recognize that you first protect yourself—drop, cover and hold on—and as soon as the shaking stops go to high ground as quickly as you can.  That is an immediate warning not provided by the National Weather Service but by Mother Nature.  

To answer the direct question if it is a major event where a major earthquake occurs the tsunami warning centers will be getting a warning out within two to four minutes once they have processed the data and have adequate enough in running their protocols and models to determine that real risk exists for a tsunami coming onshore.

Tsunami warnings are issued—several of them for a longer duration event over a period of time.  If it is a distant event like happened in March of 2011 the first warning for U.S. coastlines was not issued until several hours after the first major shock of the earthquake occurred because it enabled local officials to have time to implement their notification protocols which included even driving up and down streets and using public announcement systems.

They set off sirens about two hours before the tsunami would be making it onshore.  In some areas it was four hours.  It depends on the locality and how much travel time is needed to evacuate shorelines.  The immediate notification is a very short amount of time but there is ongoing notification if it is a particularly large event such as a distant source tsunami event.

Christa Rabenold: I’d like to mention that the submarine landslides that occurred with the 1964 event caused tsunamis that reached the land within a few minutes of the start of the land shaking.  There was not a lot of warning for those tsunamis.  It took about four hours for the tsunamis to reach Crescent City, California so with today’s warning system they would have had about four hours to know the event was on the way.

Isabel McCurdy: Who funds all these DART buoys?

Rocky Lopes: The funding for the DART buoys are owned and maintained by NOAA and the funding is appropriated to Congress to NOAA to acquire and deploy them.  It is tax dollar funding that goes to acquire, design, develop and deploy the DART buoys.  Other countries pretty much do the same thing that they are using their own country’s resources to acquire and deploy that they own and maintain.

Robert Sabarese: Here in the PNW (Seattle area) we will be engaging in another series of Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake scenarios.  Are there any video or power point representations and what would some of the expectations be should local planners anticipate?  

Rocky Lopes:  Thank you Robert for your question. While we don’t have at Weather Service Headquarters representation or illustration for a Cascadian earthquake scenario event in planning I know there are two sources you can look to—the Washington State Emergency Management Division that is part of the Washington Military Department and is a very active partner with the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.  http://www.emd.wa.gov/

Brynne Walker and John Schelling are your contacts there.  They will have that information for you.  I presume since you are in the state of Washington you would know your state contact.  Second, the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup has a website where they provide a lot of that information as well.  I would suggest visiting there.  You can reach their website at http://www.crew.org.

Amy Sebring:  Christa, are there online training programs available for either the general public or emergency management community?

Christa Rabenold: There are some excellent training programs available from COMET. They have five tsunami related courses for community preparedness.  One talks about the warning system and some targeted to the Caribbean.  It is at http://www.comet.ucar.edu/ and you need to register for those courses but they are free.  Just go on there and I think you go under the ocean and marine subject matter and you can get to them from there.  

Amy Sebring:   Can you tell us about the grant program?

Rocky Lopes:  The NTHMP grant program is a closed program available only to state, commonwealth and territory partners who apply for grant funding once they determine and assess their needs for particular activities for mapping and modeling, warning coordination and mitigation and education.  They put in an annual request.

It goes through a very iterative and clarifying review process.  It is reviewed by an independent panel whose recommendations are provided to the chair of the NTHMP coordinating committee who makes the selections based on the recommendations from the grant panel and then grant funds are made available on a performance period from September one through October thirty-one.

We just completed the grant recommendation process this week and I’m pleased to report that a total of approximately $4.2 million is being distributed to activities in thirteen states, commonwealths and territories of the U.S. for grant projects to begin September one of this year.

Amy Sebring:   Can you give us a couple of examples of activities being funded by the grant program?

Rocky Lopes: There are a lot of public education and outreach activities that are being planned and conducted in Oregon.  They declare the whole month of March Tsunami Preparedness Month and the Oregon emergency management official along with local representatives travels on a road show up and down the coast and works with local representatives from the Red Cross and emergency management and has public meetings and outreach activities.

The U.S. Virgin Islands have recently deployed or are conducting tests of siren systems that have not previously existed in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  In Guam they are also beginning to implement a siren system which had been held up by some issues in courts but they have that resolved and now they have deployed that and are conducting directed outreach throughout the entire island of Guam.

There are many communities in Guam that are subject to being affected by tsunamis and the residents of those communities live in low lying areas.  They have to conduct directed outreach in languages of the native population of the communities they are reaching.  

That is another indication similar to what they do in Hawaii, American Samoa and the Mariana Islands where they adapt outreach to meet the needs of targeted audiences using the language they understand and the methods and customs they employ on a day to day basis to know what to do, where to go and how to respond.

I should have also pointed this out in the beginning. All Pacific coastlines of the United States, commonwealths and territories have maps, evacuation maps and tsunami inundation maps and indicate where the risk areas are and the distribution of those maps has been a long term NTHMP effort through its mapping and mitigation subcommittee.  

Those are some examples of many very worthy project that states, commonwealths and territories have applied for grant funding and will be funded to perform this fiscal year.

James Warren: In thinking about the communities of houseboats where folks are permanent occupants, what is the best way to provide them with warnings? Sirens?  

Rocky Lopes:  For someone on a houseboat or in any area directly on the coastline we recommend having NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio.  http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/ It will carry tsunami warnings and immediately turn on and provide warnings any time of day or night.  Also people with wireless emergency alert enabled cell phone technology—many of the newer cell phones sold over the past three years are WEA capable.

We just launched in January of 2014 the capability through our partners at FEMA to issue a tsunami warning via the wireless emergency alert system.  In addition to sirens, NOAA radio ‘All Hazards’ and wireless emergency alerts—those are among the many redundant systems available and of course what is on television and radio which is the primary means most people get information. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/files/WEAFactSheet3.pdf

The wireless emergency alerts are limited to ninety characters.  They are indicating tsunami danger on the coast and it indicates a tsunami may occur and check local media.  It is referring people to local media for more specific information because a tsunami arrival time and wave amplitudes are going to be different anywhere along the U.S. coastline.

Moses Tcheripanoff: Tidal gauges cover most of the lower 48 coastline, are there plans to add more to the Alaska coastline?:  

Rocky Lopes: The question being tide gages in Alaska—I know there are plans to continue to enhance and deploy them.  It probably would be best to contact your state division of emergency management in Alaska for very specific plans they have about that effort.  They work very closely with the University of Alaska and its earthquake center as they collaborate on these kinds of sensing data and also our Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska is very aware of what is going on locally because they live there as well.

I suggest you reach out and contact first your state department of emergency management because they can give you more specific plans in your state.

Amy Sebring: How do NOAA and NWS coordinate with the USGS particularly on outreach?

Christa Rabenold:  We are partners with USGS and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program so we are very engaged with them in activities they do in terms of tsunami preparedness—for example with the tsunami walk template and information with the SAFRR scenario and what is involved in it.

Rocky Lopes: The USGS has been a strong partner in the development of NTHMP since its origination in 1995.  They work with us very closely in a number of ways and participate in all the meetings and share data and provide support.  As I mentioned in my part of the presentation they own and deploy the largest component of the seismic network upon which our warning centers rely.

We have a daily and ongoing relationship with USGS in accessing and using their data and seismic networks to enable our ability to provide precise warning and forecasting of tsunami events.  We work with them in such an ongoing and fluid way it is hard to describe concise activities.  We’re good friends.

Amy Sebring:  Where is current research focused?

Rocky Lopes:  A lot of the tsunami research is done by our Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and our partners in other NOAA line offices.  The research is looking at enhancing models and capabilities of forecasting and predicting tsunami events—the enhancements of computer ability to facilitate or find models to better resolution.  It is always an ongoing research effort to improve that technology.

I also showed you a video that our Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory put on the web that showed what is called the next generation or the more easily deployed DART buoy.  That is an operational result of major research projects going from the earlier DART buoys that were big lunky things that took a huge amount of effort to deploy to ones that are more self-contained and easier to deploy by pushing a box off the hull of a ship.

Those are but some examples.  You can visit the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory on the internet http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/‎ and that provides a direct link to a lot of the research that is going on in tsunamis.


Amy Sebring: On behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our participants today, thank you very much Rocky and Christa for being with us today and sharing this information and taking the time to help educate us on this.  We wish you the best with the upcoming tsunami preparedness week and your efforts with the program in the future.

Our next program will be April 16th when we will be pleased to welcome back the ever popular Doc Lumpkins who will be providing an update on the activities of FEMA’s National Integration Center where he is now serving as Director.

Until our next program when we hope to see you back, thanks to everyone for participating today and have a great afternoon. We are adjourned.