Date of Publication

2019 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Natural Disasters

Keywords

srh, naturaldisasters, hurricanes, Hurricane Marie, Hurricane Irma, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), earthquake detection

Description

In September 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc across the Caribbean region. While obliterating the infrastructure in the Caribbean nations found along their path, both hurricanes gradually destroyed the existing seismic networks. We quantified the impact of the hurricanes on the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) initial tsunami warning capability for the Caribbean region relying on the computation of theoretical earthquake detection and response times after accounting for hurricane-related station outages. The results show that the hurricanes rendered 38 % of the 146 stations available in the Caribbean inoperative. Within the eastern Caribbean region monitored by PTWC the hurricanes exacerbated outages to an astonishing 82 % of the available 76 seismic stations. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Lesser Antilles suffered the brunt of both hurricanes, and their seismic networks nearly disappeared. The double punch delivered by two successive category 5 hurricanes added up to 02:43 and 04:33 min to the earthquake detection and response times, effectively knocking out PTWC’s local tsunami warning capabilities in the region. Emergency adjustments, including the temporary reduction of the number of stations required for earthquake detection and ML magnitude release, enabled a faster response to earthquakes in the region than otherwise possible in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Comments

Originally published in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria on the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initial tsunami warning capability for the Caribbean region

In September 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc across the Caribbean region. While obliterating the infrastructure in the Caribbean nations found along their path, both hurricanes gradually destroyed the existing seismic networks. We quantified the impact of the hurricanes on the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) initial tsunami warning capability for the Caribbean region relying on the computation of theoretical earthquake detection and response times after accounting for hurricane-related station outages. The results show that the hurricanes rendered 38 % of the 146 stations available in the Caribbean inoperative. Within the eastern Caribbean region monitored by PTWC the hurricanes exacerbated outages to an astonishing 82 % of the available 76 seismic stations. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Lesser Antilles suffered the brunt of both hurricanes, and their seismic networks nearly disappeared. The double punch delivered by two successive category 5 hurricanes added up to 02:43 and 04:33 min to the earthquake detection and response times, effectively knocking out PTWC’s local tsunami warning capabilities in the region. Emergency adjustments, including the temporary reduction of the number of stations required for earthquake detection and ML magnitude release, enabled a faster response to earthquakes in the region than otherwise possible in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

 
 

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