NOAA LAUNCHES FIRST SET OF ATLANTIC BASIN TSUNAMI BUOY STATIONS
April 17, 2006 — NOAA finished installation of five Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoy stations off the East and Gulf coasts and the Caribbean as part of the expansion of the U.S. tsunami warning system. The latest buoy station, off New Orleans, joins stations off Charleston, S.C.; Miami, and two off San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Click NOAA image for larger view of map of the conceptual plan for DART expansion. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)
Completing a three-week deployment mission aboard the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System ship SEWARD JOHNSON, the fifth station was deployed Saturday.
"These buoys are a first line of defense in providing citizens of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf regions with a comprehensive tsunami warning system." said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "The DART stations are an advanced technology that will help to protect densely populated, highly attractive tourist destinations in these regions as well as protect their significant economic resources."
The DART system was designed and built by NOAA to provide real-time tsunami detection as the waves travel across the open ocean. The newly installed stations are a more robust DART II, equipped with advanced two-way satellite communications that allow forecasters to receive and retrieve critical data. NOAA expects the network to total 39 DART II buoy stations by 2008 (32 in the Pacific and seven in the Atlantic Basin).
NOAA received $17.2 million in supplemental funding in Fiscal Year 2005 and $9.67 million in Fiscal Year 2006 to expand the U.S. tsunami warning system. Since receiving this funding, NOAA's tsunami warning centers have expanded their services to provide tsunami watches and warnings to the entire U.S. Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eastern Canada. These regions can now receive tsunami warnings and watches through NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and the Emergency Alert System, just as they would be notified of tornadoes, flooding or other hazards.
"The DART network is one component in a comprehensive system to detect and warn the public of a tsunami threat," said Lautenbacher. "We have made important strides in enhancing our communication networks so East Coast residents and visitors can receive tsunami watches and warnings, upgrading our network of tide stations, working to staff our tsunami warning centers around the clock, producing forecast models for at-risk communities, transferring technology from research to operations and providing public education."
In January 2006, Norfolk, Va., became the first major city on the East Coast to be recognized as TsunamiReady, a program in which the NOAA National Weather Service works with communities to prepare evacuation plans, enhance communications and heighten awareness of tsunamis for both residents and visitors.
In the President's Fiscal Year 2007 budget, the administration is requesting approximately $21 million to complete its commitment to strengthen the nation's tsunami warning program.
"Maintaining and upgrading the DART network and all components of the warning system is an ongoing effort. We are already investigating new technologies to build an all hazards warning capability as part of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems," stated Lautenbacher.
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