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Tsunami Warning System

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    I'm not sure if this is the proper place for this topic, but if not, our moderators can feel free to place it where it belongs.

    Now that we can breath a sigh of relief to see the end of all the hub bub from our mid-term elections, I thought this is an important concern to give voice to.  While I believe that some budget cuts do need to be made in the US budget, maybe the powers that be should rethink eliminating one extremely important program. The program that I am referring to is the Deep Ocean Tsunami Warning System. 

    If I can remind you, that was when the 9.0 mag. earthquake that shifted the ocean floor 164 feet and thrust upward 33 feet, hit Japan and created a series of massive 128 ft. (height of 12 story building) tsunami waves that blasted the island nation and just poured right over their existing tsunami barriers. (As shown in photo below.)

1387734969_download(3).jpg.ae665adc195fea067cc5c1bbbb3977b4.jpg (Review all the info and videos of this disaster on the web, there is a lot of it.)

   I personally benefited from this program while vacationing on Maui in March of 2011.  When the waves hit the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Hawaii eight hours later, they were still over twelve feet high and seven feet on Maui. (The waves hitting Maui were thankfully broken up somewhat by the immediately surrounding islands of Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokai.)  We were staying in a condo in East Maui at an elevation of only about 8 feet.  We heard the tsunami sirens late that night and ended up spending the whole night until the all clear signal at about 8:00 am in our car. (with a couple hundred other cars)  We were all parked at an elevation of about 250 feet, just below the Kapalua airport (photo below) and thus safely weathered the series of six or seven waves.


     Most of the major damage to Maui was concentrated in the Lahina and Maalaea harbors on the east side of the island and Kahului harbor on the northwest side. (photos below)





    The damage to Japan was just a little more catastrophic to say the least. Some 200 square miles of coastline was flooded.  There were 20,000 people dead or missing and 470,000 people without homes. (To this date there are nearly 70,000 of these people still living in temporary housing.)  The Fukushima Daiich nuclear power plant lost power and their backup generators were lost soon after, causing the cooling system to shut down, which in turn led to the meltdown of the reactors.  The first night after the tsunami there were also major firestorms all along these same coastal areas to adding to the destruction.   Some eighteen months later much of the debris was washing up on our Pacific coast.

    Because of our 39 deep ocean tsunami sensors in the Atlantic and the Pacific that measure how severe the waves are and send a signal to satellites in orbit and on to our two tsunami warning centers, early warnings can alert everyone in its path, saving countless lives. The plan being considered is to eliminate one of the two tsunami warning centers and reduce the staff from 40 employees to 15 and to end funding for maintaining the sensors. (The sensors batteries would die in two years)  All of this to save a mere $11 million, while the potential cost of no warnings can be in the hundreds of billions. (Japans cost was over $360 billion) I think that this brings to mind the old British adage of penny wise, pound foolish.

    While we foolishly contemplate eliminating this program, Japan has been investing $500 million to install 200 of these sensors around their home islands.  Now, I ask you, when the next tsunami strikes, (And don’t fool yourself, there will be more.) do we really want to be caught with our pants down? 

    Perhaps I should send this little article to my congressman.  Maybe if we all would let our concerns about this be heard it will help save this essential program.  Who knows how many lives could be saved? 

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