Friday, March 11, 2011

A Third U.S. Tsunami Warning Center Is Headed To Puerto Rico

The federal government is setting up a warning center in Puerto Rico to improve the detection and warning system for tsunamis in the Caribbean and the U.S. East Coast.

This will be the third center in the United States.  Currently, the only two tsunami warning centers in the United States are in the Pacific region. The one at Ewa Beach, Hawaii is responsible for issuing warnings for Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and some 90 foreign jurisdictions. The other, at Palmer, Alaska, covers the state of Alaska, the coasts of the U.S. mainland, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Tsunami centers calculate everything from the possible size of a tsunami to the areas it might hit, providing local authorities with the information necessary for evacuations and warnings.   With both of these centers located in the same general region of the world, they could  be damaged or destroyed by an earthquake or tsunami event.  Adding a center in the Caribbean, would eliminate any concern or risk that could arise from any failure or lag in communication between Alaska and the Caribbean. 

The Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, has offered $6 million for the construction of a facility at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez.  The United States Congress would have to provide another $6 million for construction, and funding to cover the cost to operate the center.

This is a great idea, after the massive earthquake and tsunami we have seen in Japan.  Creating a back up to provide advanced warning is a must.


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