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Subject: Re: [emergency] California Investigates Lapses in a Tardy Tsunami Warning

A lot of this appears to be embarrassed finger-pointing by local  
officials whose shops got the messages from the state but dropped the  
ball internally.

However, there's a significant sidebar to this.  There are two  
tsunami warning centers for the Pacific region.  The one in Alaska  
provides warnings to the U.S. and Canadian west coast.  The one in  
Hawaii serves the rest of the Pacific rim.  When the quake occurred  
off the California coast, the Alaska center issued a tsunami warning  
for the (relatively) nearby shorelines, while almost simultaneously  
the Hawaii center issued a "no warning" notice for other areas.

Both messages went out over the NOAA "weather wire" satellite  
distribution, and a number of folks (including both government staff  
and news-folk) got both, didn't read the full (and relatively  
lengthy) messages carefully, and got confused.  As tends to happen,  
their embarrassment set off a massive blamefest.

So what we have here, at least in part, is a vivid illustration of  
why effective geospatial targeting of messages is so crucial.  There  
are a number of situations in which seemingly-contradictory  
instructions can be issued simultaneously to adjacent areas... e.g.,  
hurricane watch/warning bands, explosive-threat evacuation and  
shelter-in-place orders and the like.

The use of specific geospatial features instead of political or  
administrative boundaries for targeting warning messages is probably  
the single most important innovation included in CAP, and this  
episode is a vivid example of why it matters so much.

- Art

On Jun 21, 2005, at 12:11 PM, Aymond, Patti wrote:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/21/national/21warning.html
> Patti Iles Aymond, PhD
> Senior Scientist
> Bioterrorism Preparedness & Response
> Innovative Emergency Management, Inc.
> Managing Risk in a Complex World
> 8555 United Plaza Blvd.   Suite 100
> Baton Rouge, LA 70809
> (225) 952-8228 (phone)
> (225) 952-8122 (fax)
> http://www.ieminc.com/e_mail_confidentiality_notice.html

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