Thursday, May 19, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Friday, January 24, 2014
Hawaii's Weak Congressional Delegation Unable to Protect Tsunami Center
By News Release @ 4:57 AM :: 5994 Views :: National News, Congressional Delegation, Labor

TSUNAMI WARNING RELIABILITY AT RISK IN STEALTH REORGANIZATION

Downgrade of Pacific Center Bypasses Experts and Endangers Those It Protects

From PEER, Jan 22, 2014

Washington, DC — The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has quietly elevated its tsunami warning center in Alaska by relegating its Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii to secondary status, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Experts warn, however, that this move may compromise the effectiveness of the entire tsunami warning system, both internationally and domestically.

In an August 8, 2013 memo to acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Laura Furgione, Deputy Director of NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), declares “we have officially changed the name of the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center to the National Tsunami Warning Center” to handle all tsunami warnings for “the contiguous US Coastline.” The memo briefly discusses the after-the-fact communication strategy including “socializing with the stakeholder Congressional delegations.”

According to the memo, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC has been continuously operating in Oahu since 1949) is left to focus “on executing NOAA’s international tsunami warning responsibilities (with the exception of Hawaii and the Pacific Territories)” and eventually would take over “tsunami alert responsibilities for Puerto Rico and the USVI [Virgin Islands].”

While the memo describes the move as “reducing confusion across the NOAA/NWS Tsunami Program stakeholders and the general public by better defining the roles of the two centers,” experts within the agency point out that it has actually increased confusion for some PTWC stakeholders who now wonder if they must obtain official tsunami information from Alaska. Moreover, it muddles PTWC’s role in handling tsunamis generated in international waters striking the U.S., such as the Japan tsunami of 2011. In addition –

  • By encouraging competition rather than collaboration between the warning centers, NOAA is creating a “race to the bottom” by rewarding speed over accuracy;
  • Since the two centers are no longer co-equal partners, PTWC cannot act as the “hot-spare” backup for the NTWC as it had previously; and
  • The plan gives short shrift to PTWC’s international responsibilities and completely ignores its responsibilities to the U.S. military and State Department.

Neither of the Tsunami Warning Centers’ Directors have been directly part of ongoing, internal NWS discussions planning the reorganization. Notably, no one in the NWS national leadership, including the Tsunami Program Director, has ever worked at a tsunami warning center.

“There should be a broader debate before putting all our tsunami warning eggs in one basket,” urged PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the PTWC’s responsibilities cover two-thirds of the planet’s coastlines yet the entire tsunami program staff constitutes 1% of National Weather Service personnel. “Tsunami hazard detection is a highly specialized field and its experts should be at the table when decisions affecting operations are made.”

This latest move continues a pattern of skewed and ruinous treatment of the two tsunami warning centers. The Alaska center has historically had greater levels of funding, staffing and IT support than PTWC while PTWC has suffered critical equipment failures for lack of support.

“This move may be driven more by petty internal politics than any genuine attempt to enhance effectiveness,” Ruch added, pointing to internal documents charging that the NWS botched its Service Assessment of PTWC’s performance during the Samoa 2009 tsunami, recommending procedures that would have led to the failure of both U.S. tsunami warning centers during the Japan 2011 tsunami. “Tsunami warning is one discipline we cannot afford to screw up.”

###

Read the Furgione memo

See prior complaint to Commerce Inspector General on dysfunction between the two centers

View NOAA response to complaint

Examine rebuttal to NOAA response

Look at low priority NOAA places on tsunami readiness

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT