Test tsunami warnings will go out on V.I. TV and radio stations this Wednesday March 23 as part of an annual worldwide U.S. Emergency Alert System (EAS) readiness drill, an exercise whose importance is hammered home by the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe unfolding now in Japan.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service and West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center are coordinating the drill, which includes the Caribbean region.
The drill will simulate a widespread tsunami warning and watch situation throughout the Caribbean, requiring implementation of local tsunami response plans, according to a statement from the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA).
It is the first such international exercise in the Caribbean region and will include public notification through EAS, which means a tsunami warning message will be aired on radio and televisions stations across the territory, according to VITEMA.
In the territory, VITEMA, the Office of the Governor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System program are working together with local radio and TV broadcasters and Innovative Cable to conduct a demonstration of the Territory’s Emergency Alert System.
During the March 23 exercise, the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center will issue a tsunami warning message using the Tsunami Live Code, an event code that can be activated by federal, territory, state, and local government authorities.
Two minutes after 9 a.m., the tsunami warning test message will air for about two minutes on television, on most radio stations and across NOAA radios. The exercise will simulate a major earthquake and tsunami generated 25 miles southeast of Fajardo, Puerto Rico and 55 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico at 9 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time.
Many television systems are programmed to scroll standard emergency alert message text and, in some cases, the message may not contain the word “TEST.” An audio message will indicate that the warning is a test, but if the volume is turned down or otherwise unheard, viewers may not realize the warning is a demonstration of the current system.
The alert message will also be sent using a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) data format to the V.I. Alert RSS feed. If you subscribe to the V.I. Alert RSS via a third-party tool, you will receive the alert either on a territory-wide or a specific island feed.
To avoid confusion in the event of an actual tsunami warning, the demonstration may be canceled if there is excessive seismic activity a day before the test, according to VITEMA.
This is only an exercise, so no action needs to be taken when the warnings are broadcast. For more information on the U.S. tsunami warning system, see www.tsunami.gov.
For more information on the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, see nthmp.tsunami.gov.