Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tsunami Awareness Month Begins with No Jokes; New PTWC Technology Touted as Enhancement

"One goal of the improved instruments is to avoid having too many warnings, which erodes confidence in the system, McCreery said. 'The gap is really trying to keep the public prepared to do the right thing when the situation occurs.'"

That paragraph is the final one in a Honolulu Star-Bulletin story today on new instruments installed at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The irony should be obvious to anyone familiar with the complete absence of a useful warning after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. (New visitors to Tsunami Lessons might want to start reading on this subject at our first post on January 2, 2005, "No Tsunami Warning -- Why?")

Tomorrow's second part of this two-part series is titled "Getting the public to respond to tsunamis" -- potentially another irony-laden angle in light of the 2004 tsunami warning failure.

Our observations are long overdue here on improvements made in NOAA's standard operating procedures to disseminate tsunami warnings using the news media -- the #1 subject we've flogged for the past two years. Enough has been written about these improvements in the past few months to conclude that NOAA has indeed restructured its early-warning procedures to engage the news media earlier than ever.

For now, we'll wait for more news during Tsunami Awareness Month to see how the PTWC actually will use its new technology to accomplish its mission -- which is to warn.