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CDEMA Tsunami Preparedness - Caribbean History
Tsunami Warning
Caribbean Tsunami Early Warning Systems

What is A Tsunami Early Warning System
An early warning system enables us to detect tsunamis and issue warnings to prevent the loss of life and property.

An “end to end” tsunami warning system has four key elements:

  1. Monitoring and Detection – this involves the collection of seismic and sea-level data from sensors, networks and instruments, as well as, the interpretation and verification of this data by a Tsunami Warning Centre.  Currently the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) provides services interim services to the Caribbean and the Adjacent Regions with the exception of Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands, which are serviced by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN).

  2. Hazard Assessment – this component makes use of tsunami modelling and risk assessments to identify vulnerable areas and inform the evacuation process.

  3. Dissemination and Communication of Warning Information – this component ensures that the warning message is communicated to every person within vulnerable coastal communities i.e. “to the last mile” through a set of commonly practised guidelines and procedures as well as tools.

    To date, a Model Tsunami Warning Information Dissemination Protocol and associated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) has been developed for CDEMA’s eighteen (18) Participating States.  National authorities are responsible for evaluating tsunami warning bulletins and communicating an appropriate warning message to the local population.

  4. Public Awareness and Education Experts have agreed that any tsunami warning system needs to be underpinned by public awareness campaigns and emergency response plans if they are to be effective. Warnings are of little use if people do not know how to respond to them.

Knowledge becomes even more critical if warning times are short – or there is no warning at all – in which case people must know how to react immediately.

This section of the system complements the other three elements as it provides the education and awareness activities to ensure that coastal and other at risk communities are prepared to respond to a tsunami threat.

Given the nature of tsunamis, warning systems are generally coordinated on a regional basis and are complemented by sub-regional and national systems.

Do we have a Caribbean Tsunami Early Warning System

Currently, there is no comprehensive Caribbean tsunami early warning system.  With the support of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions including Central America and South America (ICG/CARIBE), is coordinating the efforts of seismic monitoring and other technical agencies in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions  in the process of developing a tsunami and other coastal hazards warning system for the region,  called the (ICG/CARIBE EWS) 
The ICG/CARIBE EWS however may take several years to be fully established.  In the mean time, there are many interim arrangements and activities which are supporting the functioning and development of a tsunami early warning system for the Caribbean. 

If an earthquake occurs that can or has triggered a tsunami that may affect the Caribbean, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC)
in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions except those in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Publicising this warning within countries, however, is the responsibility of key local agencies, including the National Disaster Management Organisation.  The Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System Project is a first-of-its kind initiative, which sought to develop protocols for the dissemination of warning information, as well as public awareness and teacher education materials, both relating to tsunamis and other coastal hazards.

The Inter-Governmental Framework for the Development of a Warning System in the Caribbean

The ICG CARIBE was established in 2005 as an immediate action and response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The Caribbean warning system, unlike for other regions, has a multi-hazard approach and focuses on all coastal hazards.  This Intergovernmental Co-ordination Group is comprised principally of Member States of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and regional organizations from the Wider Caribbean Region.

The group meets on a regular basis to discuss technical monitoring and warning dissemination needs and improvements, coordinate risk assessment and preparedness activities, and share national experiences in building tsunami awareness through education outreach.

For more information:
Click the below URLS to view tsunami monitoring and detection 


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