Dec. 26, 2009 Marks Five Years Since Sumatra Indonesia Tsunami Killed 230,000

NOAA Highlights Achievements, Urges People to Take Quick Action When a Tsunami Threatens

December 17, 2009

TsunamiReady sign.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

In December 2004, lack of an effective international warning system contributed to unprecedented loss of life when a tsunami devastated countless communities around the Indian Ocean and stunned the rest of the world. Through NOAA, the United States accelerated preparation for a potential tsunami along the U.S. coastline and efforts to build partnerships for an international warning program. According to NOAA tsunami experts, the key to surviving a destructive tsunami is people’s ability to receive warnings and willingness to act quickly to move inland or to higher ground.

“NOAA is advancing tsunami science and warning systems for America and many at-risk parts of the world,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Our efforts cannot stop with researching, developing technology and issuing forecasts – successful early warning ultimately relies on communicating the threat clearly so a prepared population will be able to act responsibly.”

Sanctuary Sam Video - Don't Trash Where You Splash.

Video – Explaining NOAA’s Tsunami Forecast Research (mov)

Download as Quicktime (Credit: NOAA)

Since 2004, NOAA has received more than $90 million to expand the nation’s tsunami detection and warning capabilities, and an additional $135 million for research, integrated observing systems, hazard mitigation through education and community preparedness, and for a global tsunami warning and education network and technology transfer program.

 As a result of this investment, the nation and the world are better prepared for the next big tsunami. Consider:

“NOAA has strong capabilities to detect tsunamis and issue warnings, but at the end of the day we need people to pay attention to these warnings and immediately move to high ground to save their own lives,” said Jenifer Rhoades, tsunami program manager at NOAA’s National Weather Service. “A violent or persistent ground shake is nature’s warning. Don’t wait to take action. This knowledge can save countless lives, as it did when the recent tsunami struck American and Independent Samoa.”

Warning Signs of a Tsunami

 What You Should Do if You See These Signs

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.