National

Wakayama to expand its own tsunami forecast system to cover prefecture's entire coast

Kyodo

The Wakayama Prefectural Government will expand the area subject to its tsunami forecasts to cover the prefecture’s entire coast in an effort to minimize damage from a major quake off central and western Japan.

Starting in mid-September, the prefecture will provide its own tsunami forecasts, including projected arrival times and wave heights, for 98 locations in 18 cities and towns, up from the current 38 locations in seven municipalities, officials said Monday.

Scientists say the Wakayama coast is susceptible to major tsunami damage in the event of a massive earthquake along the Nankai Trough.

According to the prefectural government, Wakayama is the only prefecture that provides its own forecasts. This duty is carried out by the Meteorological Agency for all of Japan.

Wakayama uses information from a quake and tsunami observation system developed by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, or JAMSTEC.

It utilizes information from a seafloor cable network called the Dense Oceanfloor Network System for Earthquakes and Tsunamis, or DONET, set up by JAMSTEC on the seafloor off Owase, Mie Prefecture.

The system is equipped with seismic intensity and water pressure meters, and can predict the height of tsunami.

To cover a wider region, JAMSTEC installed in April 2016 a second DONET in waters off the Kii Peninsula, which is primarily occupied by Wakayama Prefecture.

“It is an extremely precise system that can even forecast areas that are likely to be flooded. We want this to be used during evacuation activities,” Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka told a news conference.

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