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 www.ioc-tsunami.org