Caribbean Tsunami Exercise
The Cayman Islands will join other Countries in the Caribbean as a participant in a tsunami response exercise on March 20, 2013. The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate local tsunami response plans, increase tsunami preparedness, and improve coordination throughout the Caribbean region and northern Western Atlantic.
The exercise has been modeled by NOAA NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning program, and is titled CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 13. The exercise simulates a tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.5 earthquake occurring 57 miles north of Oranjestad, Aruba, in the Caribbean Sea. As a result, a widespread Tsunami Watch situation occurs throughout the Caribbean which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans.
According to HMCI Director, McCleary Frederick, “The exercise provides us with a useful opportunity to test the current procedures of the regional Tsunami Warning System, the National Tsunami Plan and to look at our own communications protocol in the event that a tsunami wave is threatening the Cayman Islands. It also provides us with an opportunity to network and build relationships with other countries in the region”
A number of local agencies will be participating in the exercise including Hazard Management Cayman Islands, Emergency Communications 911, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Cayman Islands National Weather Service and Government Information Services.
Goals and Objectives
- Review and enhance the existing National Tsunami Plan
- Apply and review notification procedure outlined in Tsunami Plan
- Evaluate the use of the local Warning Phases for alerting the public and response services
- Review, amend and develop, where applicable, response actions for the different response phase.
- Assign agencies to the response actions listed in the Tsunami Plan
- Activate NEOC for tsunami response. Evaluate the ability of responders to report to the NEOC in a timely fashion.
- Complete evaluation form for Caribe Wave 2013
- Evaluate notification procedures for a tsunami alert from PTWC – review of local equipment and capabilities. (EMWIN)
- Evaluate the need for a feedback mechanism from the notification process. (Due to the peculiarity of the incident)
- Identify long, medium and short issues for tsunami preparedness and response planning.
- Review media templates in plan to be used for expediting media releases and public warning in the event of a tsunami
Historical tsunami records from sources such as the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show that over 75 tsunamis have been observed in the Caribbean over the past 500 years.
Earthquake, landslide, and volcanic tsunami sources have all impacted the region. Since 1842, at least 3,510 people have lost their lives because of tsunamis in the Caribbean. In recent years, there has been an explosive population growth and influx of tourists along the Caribbean and Western Atlantic coasts increasing the tsunami vulnerability of the region.
With nearly 160 million people (Caribbean, Central America and Northern South America) now living in this tourist region and a major earthquake occurring about every 50 years, the question is not if another major tsunami will happen but when it happens, will the region be prepared for the tsunami impact? The risks of major earthquakes in the Caribbean and the possibility of a resulting tsunami are real and should be taken seriously.