Caribbean drills for tsunami warning

| 18/03/2011

(CNS): Following the devastating tsunami that hit Japan last week in the wake of a massive earthquake, people across the Caribbean, including the Cayman Islands, will be taking part in a tsunami drill next Wednesday (23 March). According to Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), the threat of a tsunamito the Cayman Islands is low. Nevertheless, purpose of this tsunami response exercise is to evaluate local tsunami response plans, increase tsunami preparedness, and improve coordination throughout the region.

“The vulnerability analysis that was conducted for Grand Cayman indicates that the threat of a damaging tsunami is low, but this exercise provides us with a useful opportunity to test the current procedures of the Tsunami Warning System and to look at our own communications protocol in the event that a tsunami wave is threatening the Cayman Islands. It is also a good opportunity for us to identify various operational strengths and weaknesses that would guide us in the development of our tsunami response plans” said McCleary Frederick, Director of HMCI.

The exercise, titled CARIBE WAVE 11/LANTEX 11, will simulate a widespread Tsunami Warning and Watch situation throughout the Caribbean which requires implementation of local tsunami response plans. It is the first such international exercise in the Caribbean region. The exercise will not include public notification.

The exercise will simulate a major earthquake and tsunami generated 25 miles southeast of Fajardo, Puerto Rico and 55 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico at 9:00am Atlantic Standard Time on 23 March 2011. Exercise participants will be provided with a handbook which describes the scenario and contains tsunami messages from the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). The WCATWC is currently responsible for providing tsunami information to the Atlantic coasts of US and Canada, the Gulf of Mexico coast, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands while the PTWC is the interim Regional Tsunami Watch Provider for the other countries in the Caribbean Sea and Adjacent Regions.

A number of local agencies will be participating in the exercise including 911, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Cayman Islands National Weather Service and Government Information Services.

If any real tsunami threat occurs during the time period of the exercise, the exercise will be terminated. The exercise is sponsored by the UNESCO/IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE-EWS), the Caribbean Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Centro de Coordinación para la Prevención de los Desastres Naturales en América Central (CEPREDENAC), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and by the US National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP – a partnership of 29 states and territories and three federal agencies). For more information on the U.S. tsunami warning system, see For more information on the NTHMP, see For more information on the ICG/CARIBE-EWS, see


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  1. Anonymous says:

    I remember the day we had a aftershock and i was in town on the pier. Other bus drivers looked at me as if i was crazy. I quickly left and drove my bus out of the pier.  No one else moved from where they were standing on the pier in fact they were laughing at me.  I drove up cardinal ave. where i saw hundreds of people standing outside of their workplace . They were waiting for someone to come to tell them if the buildings were safe to go back into. I quickly drove and parked by billy adams parking building and climbed to the top. I saw no one else there. I felt good when nothing happened thank god.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There is no need to involve anyone else, because with a tsunami like Japan’s, 23 feet high that traveled 6 miles inland, there is no safe place on Grand Cayman, except maybe the tip of mount trashmore, or Billy Adam’s carpark.  There just is no place to run.  Seriously, Cayman’s population will likely be reduced to the size of Cayman Brac’s if we ever experienced something like that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not 23 feet, 30 feet and went inland 6 to 10 miles. Mt. Trashmore wouldn’t be a safe place because it is made primarily of garbage, and garbage may break up and float away. The only safe place would be the bluff in Cayman Brac or a newly high-rise building like the Government Administrative Building in George Town. That is why I can’t understand how people can become so partisan when government begins to construct a shelter on the Bluff. Despite the expenses, the costs, the private rooms that can be used for emegency and medical purposes, and the personality, Julianna being behind the project – IT IS PROJECTS LIKE THIS WE MAY VERY WELL NEED FOR OUR PROTECTION!

  3. Libertarian says:

    ***** As a kid we use to sit in the water along the shore, and sing, “bigga belly, bigga belly, come right in” And we use to repeatedly sing that until a big wave would come right up to us and engulf us. It was fun at Seven Mile Beach, because we would sit in a row and sing “bigga belly, bigga belly, come right in” the water would pick you up and spin you around. Some of us would get up and run for dear life away from the wave before it hit the shoreline. By time we were done playing with the waves, we would be covered by sand dumped upon us. lol… memories. Born and raise in the Cayman Islands, I will never leave this place for a gigantic wave. I was born here and I will die here too. Cayman is where my heart and soul is! ***** Libertarian

    • Dred says:

      I wouldn’t leave here just because I believe it could happen but if I knew it was imminent and I had the chance to get my family off Island I would do it in the blink of an eye.

  4. Anonymous says:

    ok they say Cayman is unlikely to have a tsunami. But what if we do? Only the RCIP and the Weather ppl will be safe because they know what to do?
    I would like to know just in case, even if you are going to tell me the same thing that “Just Commentin” and others said.

    • Dred says:

      Honestly it all depends on how severe it is. If we have something like what hit Japan then it’s not about what job you hold but how many strings you can pull and how fast you can pull them.

      The safest place is obviously in the air flying away from it but in absence of that then an air tight room with lots of air and food would be my next best bet.

    • Anonymous says:

      up the TV tower 

      • Anonymous says:

        Some high buildings at Highrock – in the case of a Tsunami but if that port is erected then “Heaven help us all”.

  5. Dred says:

    In these times I’m not keen to make fun of something so serious. Peoplefrom Haiti, Japan and Summatra and even neighbouring countries will not find it funny.

    I was sitting here thinking about all the funny things I wanted to say about Big Mac and saying he will be the next earthquake but in retrospect I think it best to say this.

    A Tsunami although not a serious threat to Cayman as said is a real threat to us all. Let us not forget we have plates boundaries very near to us and although these have not been very active plates boundaries we know not what tomorrow holds. One of the few things I learnt about Physics when in school was that for every action there is a equal but opposite reaction. Saying that a 9.0 quake over there could easily mean something big on our side soon.

    In the past few years we have seen Haiti, a very poor nation, devastated by an earthquake. As bad as it was there is room to be very thankful about what happened in that if that quake was followed by a Tsunami we might still be finding bodies today and not just from Haiti but from many countries including ours.

    I would hope that if Ivan taught us but only one lesson it is to not be passive and think NOT US cause we are blessed. We too can succum to any natural disaster that is out there and sometimes it’s when we least expect it that these things come. Sometimes we have our eyes focussed on one thing such as Hurricanes that something totally unexpected happens like an Earthquake or a Tsunami that hits us.

    I would end by saying let’s be vigilent and think hard about how we would deal with something like this keeping in mind that these things are not like Hurricane that allows us days to plan. A Tsunami travels at speeds of up to 500 mph. A Tsunami originating from the Haiti or Puerto Rico region would be on us in under 2hrs and probably closer to 30-45minutes. Before we even hear the news about it we could be victims of it.

    I am not trying to instill fear but respect for this type of disaster. Let’s be clear. If we should experience something like what hit Japan the wave would probably pass comepletely over Grand Cayman. The only safe spot and I mean only safe spot would probably be the bluff in Cayman Brac. This is nature’s fury at it’s worst.

    So it would be advisable for all of us to take this matter extremely serious. We have real dangers out there that this could happen to us. I don’t believe anyone has ever said we are 100% protected because we are not.

    • Libertarian says:

      ***** And people are speaking as “if” with little probability… I say it is not a matter of “if” but when! And are we prepared, or CAN WE EVER be prepared? *****

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually Dred there was a small Tsunami with the Hatian earthquake. However the damage caused by the earthquake was so extensive that the Tsunami was not even making the news.

      By the way good writeup on earthquakes and Tsunamis. The fault where the Haitian earthquake occurred is what is known as a subduction zone, that is one plate diving under the other. The zone by the Cayman Islands is a transform zone, plates are moving parallel to each other. The first type is known for massive earthquakes the second not so much. So as you said the danger from a Tsunami is lower but still exists.


      • Dred says:

        Again I say if we had one the size of the Japan one they would be cleaning Cayman up weeks after. A Tsunami the size that hit Japan would MORE THAN LIKELY go from one side to the other. THe Japan one went 10 miles inland.

        There would be little to no warning. We would be impacted in about 1hr of quake. It all depends on where the quake is and the severity.

        I guess all I am saying is TAKE IT SERIOUSLY and PRAY we never have to use it. Cause if it does happen it will be the worse thing ANY of us have ever experienced.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Best advise, head for the Dump, itll be the only place above the wave!

  7. Anonymous says:

    If you visit  the cliffs beyond Pedro St James you will observe car-sized rocks cast in a line about 100 feet back from the cliff edge. After Ivan, the line of sea fans and dead sea life blasted there by the waves, exactly followed this line of rocks.

    I believe that a visiting scientist in the 90’s was able to extract organic material from underneath these rocks and determine that they were probably deposited there about 500 to 600 years ago. A  core extracted from the island’s interior exhibited one extraordinarily thick layer of sediment, in contrast to the thin layers within which it was embedded. This layer was also dated to the same period as the rocks. Somewhere In the Bahamas, there is 1,000 ton block of coral perching at the top of a 20 foot cliff, clear evidence of some cataclysmic wave that lifted it there. It makes you think a little bit…

    • Just Commentin' says:

      A while back I was in the vicinity of the cliffs beyond Pedro St James. In the distance a few hundred feet away I away I noticed some dudes rambling around the rocks as if looking for something. (Researchers?)

      I grabbed my binoculars to get a closer look.

      It looked as if one of them was extracting some material from under a rock. (A geological sample?)

      They all gathered around and appeared to carefully inspect the sample.

      The man that found the material handed the sample to another guy and it looked like the second man divided the sample and rolled in small squares of white paper. (Apparently to preserve the samples?)

      He thenpassed a rolled packet to each one of he party, apparently for each one to closer inspect the samples.

      Next I saw each one of them ignite the roll he was given. (Maybe some sort of destructive testing of the sample?)

      Then they all squatted down in a circle. I am not sure what happened after that because my view was obscured by a large rock . I lost track of what they did with the samples and all I could see was the tops of their heads.

      It was not long after the smoke died out that I saw them get up. They started laughing and dancing around, apparently quite merry about something they found. (I think that they made a momentous discovery!)

      As happy as they appeared they must have made a great find of significant scientific importance. Strange that this research group and their work never made the news.

    • Anonymous says:

      Continue on this line of comments,it make for good reading and very informative.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you’re interested in the geologic history of Cayman, and all that is known about tsunamis in the Caribbean, then I urge you to buy a copy of Murray Roeds’s fascinating book, "Islands from the Sea." I think they have copies at the National Trust shop on South Sound. You’ll never look at Cayman with the same eyes again.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you walked along the bluffs of Pedro after Hurricane Ivan, you would have seen ample evidence that a large amount of water had been flowing over those rocks in the days just before.  Indeed, most of Grand Cayman was under water during Hurricane Ivan and the storm surge of that hurricane did a tremendous amount of damage.

      Tsunamis are dangerous and, as a low-lying island, Cayman is probably very susceptible to such a phenomenon.  However…

      Unfortunately, the reality seems to be:  what are the odds that a giant wave will hit us and how much money do we have to spend to prepare for that wave?

      Or do we vote to spend money on a canopy to protect us from the asteroid which might possibly strike us from on high?

      As grown ups, we have to assess the odds of each possible disaster and then act and spend as best we can to insure our safety and the safety of our children. 


  8. Anonymous says:

     This touches on how important the mangroves are to our ecosystem.Its the first line of defense against debris, waves and flooding.


  9. jim says:

    A tsunami doesn’t have to be caused by an earthquake. A tsuanmi can come from an underwater landslide, which can occur off the Cayman trench or some other nearby region.

  10. Just Commentin' says:

    As I live in a potential flood zone close to the ocean, I regularly conduct my own mock tsunami drill:

    Once a tsunami is confirmed to be on path to the island, I assume a crouching position with my hands behind my head, then I place my head between my knees and …

    …I kiss my a** goodbye.

    • Anonymous says:

      Darn you just commentin’!
      I was gonna say that. Still at least if two of us are like minded, maybe we can get more people into the drill:

      1- bend down

      2- put your head between your knees

      3 – kiss your a##e goodbye!

      …… all together now………………

      • Just Commentin' says:


        I guess great minds think alike. Gee. Knowing me, this could be a scary thought for y’all like-minded people out there.

        Ok… now let’s drill…

        1. Crouch

        2. Bend

        3. Kiss

        4. Say "Good-bye!"