Southeastern Section - 62nd Annual Meeting (20-21 March 2013)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:25 AM


VON HILLEBRANDT, Christa, NOAA, National Weather Service, 259 Alfonso Valdés, Res. 1B and 2A, Mayaguez, PR 00680 and ALIAGA, Bernardo, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO, Paris, France,

Since 1842 at least 3510 people have lost their lives to tsunamis. Given the great concentration of population and economic activity along the coasts in the Caribbean, a tsunami today could have tragic and devastating effects. In 2005 the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS) was established as a subsidiary body of the IOC-UNESCO. Thru government and scientific collaboration, the goal is to save lives and secure economic prosperity in the 40 participating states and territories in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. The four major areas of focus are: (1) Monitoring, Detection and Warning Guidance, (2) Hazard Assessment, (3) Warning Dissemination and Communication and (4) Preparedness, Readiness and Resilience. In 2012 the VII Session of the CARIBE EWS encouraged the US to continue with the phased approach towards the establishment of the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Center (CTWC) in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico (in 2010 the National Weather Service established the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program). Until a Tsunami Warning Center is established in the region, the US NWS Pacific and West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Centers are providing interim service. Data from over 90 seismic stations and 40 sea level stations are available for tsunami detection and analysis. GPS stations are installed thru national and regional (COCO NET) efforts and their tsunami applications are being developed. Advances have been made in tsunami inundation mapping, but default evacuation zones (30 m elevation or 1.6 km inland) are recommended where there is no mapping. The need to integrate risk and vulnerability assessments has also been recognized. To strengthen and validate the tsunami communications plan and local and national standard operation procedures, the second regional tsunami exercise, CARIBE WAVE LANTEX was conducted on March 20. 2013. To support the preparedness in the region, the Caribbean Tsunami Information Center is being established in Barbados. A Public Awareness and Education strategy is also under development. In 2011, the first community outside of the US, Anguilla, was recognized by UNESCO and the NWS as TsunamiReadyTM.