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Safety from a tsunami in Puerto Rico

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Safety from a tsunami in Puerto Rico

Postby KarenS » Mon May 15, 2006 9:03 am

From "PRNewswire/ -- Officials from NOAA's National Weather Service have recognized Mayaguez as the first TsunamiReady community in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The fifth largest city on the island, Mayaguez now joins 28 other TsunamiReady communities in seven states.

'With our expanding tsunami observation and communications network, our forecasters already have the capability to monitor conditions and warn for tsunamis in the Caribbean and along the nation's East and Gulf coasts,' said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of the National Weather Service. 'We have also completed deployment of five Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami DART buoy stations to help protect coastal populations in the region.'

The DART system is designed to provide real-time tsunami detection as waves travel across the open ocean. The new stations are equipped with advanced two-way satellite communications that allows forecasters to receive and retrieve critical data. When the entire system of 39 buoy stations is complete in 2008 -- seven of them will be deployed in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Located on the island's west coast, Mayaguez has a population of 105,000, nearly a third of whom live and work in areas considered vulnerable to a tsunami. Of particular concern is the Puerto Rico Trench to the northwest. Highly susceptible to seismic activity, the Trench is a boundary between the Caribbean, North American and South American Plates. Since 1848, eight tsunamis have originated there causing more than 2,500 deaths. In 1918, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Trench resulted in a tsunami that killed 140 people in Puerto Rico.

Working closely with the National Weather Service forecast office in San Juan, as well as the Puerto Rico seismic network, Mayaguez completed a rigorous set of warning and evacuation criteria to meet the guidelines for TsunamiReady recognition.

'While no community can be tsunami proof, Mayaguez now has the means to minimize the threat to the public,' said Bill Proenza, director of the National Weather Service southern region. 'A tsunami may not strike for many generations, but then again, it could happen within a year. We now look forward to expanding the program to include other coastal communities and eventually the entire island.'"
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