New tsunami alerts set to debut

by

Staff Writer

The Meteorological Agency’s revised tsunami warning system starts up at noon Thursday in order to better alert the public over the threat of massive waves hitting land, a move that comes almost two years after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and vast coastal devastation.

The 3/11 temblor caused tsunami several, even dozens of meters, high to ravage the Tohoku region’s coast, resulting in up to 19,000 lives lost — mainly those who were unable to escape the waves.

Whereas the current system simply issues alerts about possible large tsunami, the new version will begin with a warning stating “tsunami similar to those of the Great East Japan Earthquake will strike.” It will also call on the public to “immediately” flee to safe locations.

The new warnings will also avoid giving specific heights of possible tsunami until an accurate prediction can be made, instead alerting the public of potential “kyodai” (enormous) tsunami. The wording will better reflect the urgency of the situation, the agency said.

The agency will use data collected offshore in addition to what is gathered on land in order to better predict the size of tsunami.

NHK will update its tsunami alerts based on the agency’s revisions. According to NHK, the new system will broadcast warnings on screens that are easier to comprehend by conveying the dangers clearly and providing the latest updates from the agency.

Warnings to avoid seashores will be written in easier-to-read hiragana for children and people who have difficulty reading kanji.

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