By Brad Maushart
October 30, 2012
So where am I going with this? Ah yes... The Tsunami Warning you have written about. Look, I'll be the first one to admit that I'm not a fan of false alarms. At least once a week while living in the dorms in college, someone would pull the fire alarm at 3 o'clock in the morning, most of the time in the dead of winter. I can only imagine that being asked to evacuate a cozy cabin in Ketchikan at the end of October for an impending Tsunami would be a pretty similar displeasure.
However, from a weather perspective, I fully understand why the warning system is in place. No, it's not 100% fail proof, but it does do a great job of keeping people safe. This is where I stop finding humor in your writing. You first complain that the warning issued noted the tsunami was imminent, but that it would arrive over an hour later. This is what is known as lead time. It saves lives, not only in a tsunami situation, but also with tornadoes, flash flooding and wildfires. The bigger amount of lead time you have, the more of a chance you can have emergency workers rushed into action and get "robotic-cat-in-a-blender" television and radio notifications out to the public in order to save lives when necessary. The fact that you find displeasure that you didn't have to go screeching down to your mother's house, panic stricken, amazes me... that you mock the warning that could have saved your life and many of those around you, if God forbid, the tsunami did come to fruition, amazes me. I don't understand why you felt that you should call out those who issued this warning in the way that you did. You mock repeatedly every source that helped get the warning to you, be it public broadcasting alerts, social media and word of mouth. All these have been put in place and worked effectively to let you know what (could have been) headed your way.
I for one am glad there was no tsunami. I am not able to leap into action on a Saturday night, hop on-air and deliver the message since we do not yet run weekend shows or have the crews necessary on the weekends. That's why I'm glad there are several other plans in place to get that warning to you, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, automated messages on your TV and or your Radio. One of my responsibilities as a meteorologist is to keep the folks that rely on me for accurate and timely information safe. I have no control over whether or not they actually take my messages for granted, but you do little to give me hope that there are people out there that do, but you're not the only one. Just take for instance the people who didn't feel the need to evacuate their beach front homes last night in coastal communities along the east coast. They were urged by emergency managers, the weather community and elected officials to evacuate and refused. These people were also the first to clog emergency phone lines pleading for high-risk rescues from Hurricane Sandy.
We have a problem in America with short-term memory loss when it comes to disasters. We see them happen, now more vividly than ever with the ease of sharing photos to Twitter and video on YouTube. We see the destruction and devastation with our own eyes and then want to act like it never happened months later, and we don't ever end up learning from past mistakes that were made. Also, just because something has never happened, eg. Tsunami in Ketchikan or the NYC Subways Flooding, doesn't mean it is impossible. I think New York City learned that the hard way last night.
I hope you take from this a different perspective on why the warning system is in place and although it might only be precautionary, heed the warning. You might just be glad you did next time.
Received October 30, 2012 - Published October 30, 2012
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