BREAKING NEWS – Emergency Managers to Test Atlantic/Gulf Tsunami Warning and Response

Published 8:34 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

Residents and visitors along the Atlantic coasts of the United States and Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands should not be alarmed when they hear tsunami test messages broadcast over their televisions and radios on Thursday, April 2. That day, at 8 a.m. CDT, officials will test the region’s communication and response plans to help communities prepare for a tsunami.

Co-sponsored by NOAA and the U.S. National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, this is the first region-wide tsunami warning test to include the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, Canadian Atlantic Provinces, and the U.S. Caribbean Territories and Commonwealths.

NOAA’s Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, will commence the exercise by issuing a test bulletin through tsunami warning communication channels. The test bulletin, clearly marked “test message,” will prompt local officials to implement their tsunami response plans.

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During this exercise, some communities in Puerto Rico will conduct evacuation drills while participating emergency management agencies on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts will conduct preparedness activities, such as workshops and table-top exercises. Upon completion of the exercise, participants will evaluate the effectiveness of their tsunami preparedness plans and make adjustments as necessary.

The United States expanded its tsunami warning system and preparedness activities in 2005 after a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean struck the coasts of several countries including Sumatra, Indonesia, with little or no warning, killing nearly 230,000 people. The Indian Ocean region was considered to have a relatively low risk for a destructive tsunami.

“The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami raised awareness about the urgent need to be prepared,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “This important exercise will test the Tsunami Warning System to identify operational strengths and weaknesses in each community that takes part.

The exercise will increase tsunami preparedness and improve coordination throughout the regions. Coastal residents and visitors are encouraged to prepare their personal tsunami plans prior to this exercise and locate their community’s tsunami evacuation routes. The exercise will be cancelled if a real tsunami threat occurs within 24 hours of the test.

NOAA observes, 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. Visit

On the Web:

West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center:

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center:

NOAA Tsunami Program:

National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program: