The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates two tsunami warning centers in the Pacific Ocean, one in Hawaii http://www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/ and one in Alaska http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/ Each is linked to a network of 32 data buoys scattered across the Pacific that relay wave data by satellite.
After the devastating tsunami that hit Indonesia in December 2004, NOAA added seven additional buoys off the East and Gulf coasts of the United States and in the Caribbean Sea that can relay wave information.
In the rather remote chance that a tsunami were to be detected heading toward the East Coast, alerts would be sent out over the National Weather Service radio network that is used to warn of tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather hazards.
Tsunamis are much more likely to happen in the Pacific Ocean because of the geology of the ocean floor, where earthquakes are more common than in the Atlantic Ocean.
Nonetheless, tsunamis have occurred in the Atlantic. In 1755, an earthquake off the coast of Portugal destroyed much of Lisbon and triggered a tsunami that hit Lisbon, the coast of Spain and parts of North Africa.
Earthquake-generated tsunamis have been recorded about half a dozen times over the years in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, most recently in 1918, when 32 people died, according to Gerard Fryer, a professor and tsunami researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology. For more details, see http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/ASK/tsunamis.html
Date posted: September 29, 2009
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