When the sirens go off, people in Hawaii take action. People ruffle through grocery stores and gas stations for safety needs as their reaction to these tsunami warnings.
But Hawaii scientist wonder if these warnings are always necessary.
“We’ve had two events where we had to question whether a weather warning was necessary,” said Gerard Fryer, with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. “One was the Chile tsunami of 2010, for which we issued a warning. The other was the Canada tsunami of 2012 where we issued a tsunami warning.”
Though people exaggerate on the severity of tsunami warnings, these unnecessary warnings usually become false alarms. And consequently, people don’t take them seriously.
“So our orders are, if we think it is over 3 feet we have to issue a warning. Those are the standard rules, and right now it’s beginning to look like it’s too conservative,” said Fryer. But scientist consider if the tsunami threshold should be higher.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that they are now equipped with better equipment that will provide for more accurate readings on tidal and pressure gauges across the Pacific. Most of their transmitters now transmit information every five minutes, compared to their previous transmitters where it transmitted every two hours. This means a better and faster indication of a possible tsunami impact on the islands.
Scientists consider on taking another look at the warning system now that they are equipped with more data. From revising the warning system, they hope that the public will react to the warning more seriously. “We don’t issue unnecessary warnings because when the big events happen, we want to take it seriously. It’s a safety issue,” said Fryer.