Tsunami response exercise Wednesday


    Don’t be too alarmed Wednesday morning when a flurry of activity begins as the Cayman Islands’ response to a tsunami watch and warning is tested.

    The tsunami response exercise will involve the Caribbean region to evaluate tsunami response plans, increase tsunami preparedness and improve coordination throughout the region.

    “The vulnerability analysis that was conducted for Grand Cayman indicates that the threat of a damaging tsunami is low, but this exercise provides us with a useful opportunity to test the current procedures of the Tsunami Warning System and to look at our own communications protocol in the event that a tsunami wave is threatening the Cayman Islands.

    It is also a good opportunity for us to identify various operational strengths and weaknesses that would guide us in the development of our tsunami response plans” said McCleary Frederick, director of Hazard Management in the Cayman Islands.

    The exercise, titled CARIBE WAVE 11/LANTEX 11, will simulate a widespread Tsunami Warning and Watch situation throughout the Caribbean, which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans.

    It is the first such international exercise in the Caribbean region. The exercise will not include public notification.

    The exercise will simulate a major earthquake and tsunami generated 25 miles southeast of Fajardo, Puerto Rico and 55 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico at 9am Atlantic Standard Time on 23 March. Exercise participants will be provided with a handbook that describes the scenario and contains tsunami messages from the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

    The WCATWC is responsible for providing tsunami information to the Atlantic coasts of US and Canada, the Gulf of Mexico coast, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands while the PTWC is the interim Regional Tsunami Watch Provider for the other countries in the Caribbean Sea and Adjacent Regions.

    Several agencies will participate in the exercise including 911, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Cayman Islands National Weather Service and Government Information Services.

    If any real tsunami threat occurs during the time period of the exercise, the exercise will be terminated.

    The exercise is sponsored by the UNESCO/IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions, the Caribbean Emergency Management Agency, the Centro de Coordinación para la Prevención de los Desastres Naturales en América Central, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and by the US National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program – a partnership of 29 states and territories and three federal agencies.

    For more information on the US tsunami warning system, see www.tsunami.gov.

    For more information on the NTHMP, see nthmp.tsunami.gov. For more information on the ICG/CARIBE-EWS, see 


    Tsunami tidal waves hit houses after a powerful earthquake in Natori on Friday, 11 March. While it’s unlikely Cayman would ever experience a disaster of this magnitude, local officials will be taking part in a regional tsunami response exercise Wednesday.
    Photo: msnbc.com


    1. I Would not be too sure that cayman is unlikely to get a tsunami. We are living in the world, are nt we? What we should is to pray to the good Lord that it donnt happen and be prepared

    2. I hate to inject reality into the whole tsunami thing. If a tsunami the size of japan ever hit Cayman. Thats’ it, it’s over.

      There is no preparedness that is going to help. Most of us die. It’s that simple.

      The tsunami that hit japan went 6 miles inland. Destroying everything in it’s wake. These are majoritity of buildings that are made to be earthquake proof. And the land was uneven and mountainous. Cayman is in geographic terms, flat! I would go so far as saying, if a tsunami half the size of japan hit Cayman, that’s it, it’s over. Due to our flat terrain, the water would travel farther.

      So it’s pointless to have any drills to speak of here. This sounds like doom and gloom. But you can’t sugar coat poop and expect it to taste like candy. It is, what it is.

      If we get a tsunami warning, we all get off the island fast, or die. It’s that simple. Spending money on tsunami drills are a waste of money.

    3. In the event of a tsunami warning in Cayman the situation would be very simple: get to the upstairs of a sturdy building and live, otherwise die. Most of the GT and Camana Bay office buildings would survive, but not much else. Perhaps some of the newer post-Ivan (and so hurricane proof) condo buildings would stand up to it.

      Gloomy thoughts

    4. I honestly don’t think many buildings would be left standing after a tsunami in cayman. And would you risk your life, thinking that going to a second or third floor of a random building, with the chance that building may collapse, is a good idea?

      Realistically, going to a higher floored building is only a last ditch effort because not enough time was given for a tsunami warning to get off the island by plane. At which time you pray your building doesnt’ collapse under the sheer weight of the 30 some foot water wave. Which washes over the entire island.

      Or put it this way, in ivan, there was 12 feet of water, and the island was almost completely covered in water, except for a few spots for 3 hours. IE US coast guard said the island dissappeared off the radar for 3 hours. Imagine what a 20 or 30 foot solid wave will do. hmmmmmm.

      ya…like anyone going to go to a higher building if they have time to flee the island.

      There is absolutely no point to making plans for a tsunami on Cayman.

    5. The Govt might as well practice recovering from a major blizzard or alien invasion. There is an extremely low chance of a Tsunami hitting Cayman. It is physically impossible for Cayman to ever experiance a wave like that which hit Japan.

      Every piece of scientific literature you read on tsunamis backs this point up. We just choose to ignore the facts and get caught up in the excitement of the disaster porn in the media.

      When a tsunami travels across open ocean it has an amplitude (waveheight) of around 1 metre. The wavelength can be hundreds of miles long so even thought the wave can be moving extremely quickly a ship in the ocean would not even notice it going by. When the wave nears the shore of a large land mass the energy builds as the sea floor gradually becomes shallower and shallower. This gradual change in the water depth is what causes the wave to change shape and causes the water near the surface to begin to move forwards. Watch any small wave breaking on the shore to see this happen.

      Cayman is a tiny island in a vast and very deep ocean. There is no continental shelf to magnify the wave through slowly decreasing depth. We are essentially on an underwater mountian top surrounded by incredibly deep water . The experience of a tsunami passing by Cayman would be much more akin to that of a ship in the ocean than to a large land mass with a shallow coastline. Cayman would experience a 1 meter high tide, not a 30 foot wall of water.

      It is easy to see why everybody is confused. The local media latches on to the conveniently available information produced by the US and Japan. There is no one locally with the science background to relate it to our geographic situation.

    6. Given Cayman’s position in the Caribbean we are generally sheltered by other land masses in most directions. There are only a small number of areas of ocean where a tsunami could be generated that would strike Cayman, and the maximum range is only about 600-700 miles. In that event, there would be no time for getting clear by plane – unless you were already in the departure lounge when the alert sounded.

    7. For goodness sake – what is this ???
      I am all for ‘being prepared’ but this is just slightly ridiculous …… would the spent on this ‘exercise’ not be better spent in other areas eg FIGHTING CRIME??

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