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NOAA’S NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DECLARES HAWAI`I THE
FIRST TSUNAMIREADY STATE IN THE UNITED STATES

Hawaii is TsunamiReady.Dec. 9, 2005 Officials from the NOAA National Weather Service were in Honolulu today to praise Hawai`i’s civil defense team for completing a set of rigorous warning and evacuation criteria necessary to earn the distinction of the entire state being TsunamiReady and StormReady.

“It is with great pride that we announce Hawai`i as the first TsunamiReady state in America,” said U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye. “Hawai`i has experienced more tsunami threats than any other state in the union and we know how devastating they can be. As we near the one-year anniversary of the greatest tsunami of our lifetime, our hearts go out to those Indian Ocean countries who are still recovering. In Hawai`i, we have taken steps to be better prepared for the next tsunami. We have an emergency operations center in every county, a statewide siren system, evacuation maps in the phone books, regular drills and public education programs. These provisions and others helped the State of Hawai`i become TsunamiReady and StormReady.”

NOAA TsunamiReady sign.“Hawai`i is proud and honored to receive the TsunamiReady Award on behalf of the hundreds of state personnel. It acknowledges their achievements, individually, as a department and our Administration over the past few years," said Governor Linda Lingle. "However, as we have learned this year from the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, we can never be fully prepared. My Administration is proposing a comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Package focused on hazard mitigation, enhancing preparedness, and accelerating response and recovery efforts to help make Hawai`i better prepared in the years ahead. These initiatives, when fully implemented, will further strengthen our ability to save lives and protect property in the event of a disaster."

“All four counties in Hawai`i have earned the TsunamiReady and StormReady designation, making Hawai`i the first state in the United States to achieve this status,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service. “Through the StormReady program, Hawai`i will be better prepared to help protect the lives and property of its residents and visitors during severe weather events. The state of Hawai`i should take great pride in having gone the extra mile to provide its residents and visitors with the added measure of protection that the TsunamiReady program affords.”

April 1, 1946, tsunami breaking over Pier No. 1 in Hilo Harbor, Hawaii. The man in the foreground became one of the 159 fatalities in the Hawaiian Islands from the tsunami. The photo was taken from the Brigham Victory, which was in the harbor at the time of the event. The ship was caught by the waves and tossed about but was able to use its own power to avoid the reefs and get past the breakwater to the open sea.Johnson presented a plaque that recognized Hawai`i’s work to Governor Linda Lingle during a news conference today in Waikiki. The TsunamiReady and StormReady designations must be renewed every three years. (Click NOAA image for larger view of April 1, 1946, tsunami breaking over Pier No. 1 in Hilo Harbor, Hawaii. The man in the foreground became one of the 159 fatalities in the Hawaiian Islands from the tsunami. The photo was taken from the Brigham Victory, which was in the harbor at the time of the event. The ship was caught by the waves and tossed about but was able to use its own power to avoid the reefs and get past the breakwater to the open sea. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.)

TsunamiReady and StormReady community preparedness programs use a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle tsunamis, local severe weather, wave impacts and flooding threats, and help communities inform citizens of threats associated with each.

Wreckage of a political party clubhouse in Hilo, Hawaii, following a tsunami that was generated by the earthquake of April 1, 1946, in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Every house on the main street facing Hilo Bay was washed across the street and smashed against the buildings on the other side. Houses were overturned, railroads ripped from their roadbeds, coastal highways buried and beaches washed away. The waters off the island were dotted with floating houses, debris and people.These programs are voluntary, and provide communities with clear-cut advice through a partnership between the local National Weather Service offices and state, county and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 and has grown to more than 990 StormReady communities in 48 states and there are more than 20 TsunamiReady communities in six states. (Click image for larger view of wreckage of a political party clubhouse in Hilo, Hawaii, following a tsunami that was generated by the earthquake of April 1, 1946, in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. Every house on the main street facing Hilo Bay was washed across the street and smashed against the buildings on the other side. Houses were overturned, railroads ripped from their roadbeds, coastal highways buried and beaches washed away. The waters off the island were dotted with floating houses, debris and people. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)

To be recognized as TsunamiReady and StormReady, a community must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
  • Have more than one way to receive tsunami and severe weather warnings and forecasts to alert the public;
  • Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

Hilo, Hawaii, destruction left in the wake of tsunami generated by earthquake of May 22, 1960, off the coast of Chile. The Waiakea area of Hilo, Hawaii, was 10,000 km (more than 6,000 miles) from the generating area. Parking meters were bent by the force of the debris-filled waves. This tsunami affected the entire Pacific Basin.“We are honored and proud to be recognized as StormReady and TsunamiReady by the National Weather Service,” said Major General Robert G.F.Lee, Hawai`i’s Adjutant General and Director of State Civil Defense. “This program provides us with improved weather warning and preparedness services for the entire state that will help us save lives.” (Click image for larger view of the Hilo, Hawaii, destruction left in the wake of tsunami generated by earthquake of May 22, 1960, off the coast of Chile. The Waiakea area of Hilo, Hawaii, was 10,000 km (more than 6,000 miles) from the generating area. Parking meters were bent by the force of the debris-filled waves. This tsunami affected the entire Pacific Basin. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)

Dr. Laura Kong, director of NOAA's International Tsunami Information Center, and Ken Gilert, disaster preparedness and mitigation officer, Oahu Civil Defense Agency, greet visitors at E Malama I Ke Kai, an ocean fair held at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu in April 2004. Visitors received tsunami safety information, watched a tsunami education video, and participated in learning activities. The keiki (children) are decorating tags for their bookbags; one side of the tag features a colorful tsunami wave and a Web site. More than 1,000 people attended the family day event which featured entertainment, arts and crafts, and education booths.The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NOAA National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. (Click NOAA image for larger view of Laura Kong, director of NOAA's International Tsunami Information Center, and Ken Gilert, disaster preparedness and mitigation officer, Oahu Civil Defense Agency, greeting visitors at E Malama I Ke Kai, an ocean fair held at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu in April 2004. Please credit “NOAA.”).

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA National Weather Service

TsunamiReady

StormReady

NOAA Tsunami Page

Media Contact:
Delores Clark, NOAA National Weather Service, Honolulu, Hawaii, (808) 532-6411