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December 29, 2004

Tsunami Warning Suppressed?

So as not to distress the tourist industry?

Right now I'm filing this under too-bad-to-be-true. I hope the this sort of stunning malfeasance isn't possible outside of a Jaws movie.

A Contrary View: Remy Logan (X-Man fan much?) offers the following:

Tsunami prediction is only a little more accurate than earthquake prediction. Hawaii has received 3 alerts since 1960, 2 were false alarms. I was in Hawaii for the last big tsunami prediction, which turned out to be a false alarm (fortunately). The news media tracked the surge across the Pacific. The entire island of Oahu was brought to a standstill and tens of thousands were still on the road in harm's way at the predicted time. The "wave" was only a few inches and could only be "seen" by reviewing wave sensor data after the fact.

I was also in Hawaii when Hurricanes Ewa and Iniki were supposed to devestate Oahu. The island of Kauai took the brunt of both hurricanes, and Oahu was left relatively unscathed. I've experienced more damage from freak windstorms and heavy rains that weren't projected to cause much damage (but did).

The bottom line, hindsight is always 20/20. The Thai officials didn't haven't accurate information, and based on historical precedence decided there wasn't a danger. It's easy to say they should have been cautious and sounded the alarm. I'm sure that if there is a similar threat in the next 50 years they will. But, historically speaking, no one alive today will be around the next time something like this happens.

In Hawaii, the one tsunami that was devestating was so unique, that no one then knew what it was. Just like happened on Sunday, people then were awed by the site of the suddenly emptied beach and instead of running for the hills, ran out to see the flopping fish.

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posted by Ace at 05:59 PM

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