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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-76
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-76
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 19 Mar 2019

Research article | 19 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the PTWC Tsunami Warning Capability for the Caribbean Region

Victor Sardina1, David Walsh1, Kanoa Koyanagi1, Stuart Weinstein1, Nathan Becker1, Charles McCreery1, and Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade2 Victor Sardina et al.
  • 1Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, NOAA, NWS, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 2US NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Abstract. 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 PTWC 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 inoperative 38 % of the 146 stations available in the Caribbean. 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 minutes 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.

Victor Sardina et al.
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Short summary
We quantified the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria on the PTWC tsunami warning capability for the Caribbean region after accounting for hurricane-related seismic station outages. Within the eastern Caribbean region the hurricanes exacerbated outages to an astonishing 82 % of the available 76 stations. This resulted in up to 02:33 and 04:33 extra minutes added to the earthquake detection and response times, effectively knocking out PTWC's local tsunami warning capabilities in the region.
We quantified the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria on the PTWC tsunami warning capability for...
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