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What is a tsunami?

A tsunami, also known as a seismic sea wave, is usually caused by an earthquake that occurs under the ocean or near the coast. The seismic energy creates a large wave that can cause heavy damage hundreds or even thousands of miles from its source. Hawaii is frequently struck by tsunamis.

How does Hawaii protect itself from tsunamis?

There is a sophisticated global monitoring network that provides warnings about possible tsunamis, allowing the islands of Hawaii and other coastal areas to prepare for impending disaster. Hawaii also has a thorough evacuation system to protect lives in the face of tsunami danger.

What caused the great Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004?

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake in the ocean off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, caused a reverberating swell of water to move toward Indonesia, Thailand, Sri

A map showing the location of DART tsunami monitoring buoys across the world (map courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

A map showing the location of DART tsunami monitoring buoys across the world (map courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Lanka, India, and the Maldives. Its effects were felt as far away as Africa, before it finally dissipated.

How many people were killed during the 2004 tsunami disaster in Asia?

More than 160,000 people were killed by the initial waves and the resultant flooding and destruction that followed.

What is the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center?

Administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and based in Hawaii and Alaska, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is the command center for monitoring and warning all nations which may be affected by a tsunami. With data from a network of 39 detection buoys called the Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami array, the center can issue alerts of real time earthquake activity in the Pacific basin, and the tsunamis that may result, giving residents affected time to head to safe ground, away from low lying coastal areas.

What is the DART array?

DART stands for the Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami array, which consists of 39 buoys that float in critical spots in the Pacific. Each DART system consists of an anchored seafloor bottom pressure recorder (BPR) and a companion moored surface buoy for real-time communications. An acoustic link transmits data from the BPR on the seafloor to the surface buoy. The BPR collects temperature and pressure at 15-second intervals. In normal mode, it transmits the data every 15 minutes. If there is an event, the system reports back data collected in 15-second intervals every minute.


What part of a hurricane is most damaging?

Floods caused by hurricanes are the most destructive element. The low-pressure center of a hurricane causes a mound of water to rise above the surrounding water. This hill of water is pushed by the hurricane's fierce winds and low pressure onto the land, where it floods coastal communities, causing significant damage. Hurricanes also spark tornadoes that contribute to the devastation.

What is a willy-willy?

Willy-willy is the Australian name for a hurricane.

How fast do hurricane winds blow?

The strongest hurricanes have winds that reach speeds well over 150 miles (240 kilometers) per hour.

How are hurricanes ranked?

Hurricanes are ranked on a scale of one to five, with category one hurricanes being the weakest and category five being the strongest and most destructive. The damage caused by each category of hurricane ranks from: 1, minimal; 2, moderate; 3, extensive; 4, extreme (such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992); to 5, catastrophic.

Hurricane Type

Winds (MPH/KPH)

Surge Levels

Category One Category Two Category Three Category Four Category Five

74-95 mph/119-153 kph 96-110 mph/154-177 kph 111-130 mph/178-209 kph 131-155 mph/210-249 kph > 155 mph/> 249 kph

4-5 feet/1.2-1.5 meters 6-8 feet/1.8-2.4 meters 9-12 feet/2.75-2.4 meters 13-18 feet/4-5.5 meters > 18 feet/> 5.5 meters

What was Hurricane Katrina?

Hurricane Katrina was the name given to the hurricane that developed in the Gulf of Mexico and struck New Orleans and many other cities along the southern coast of the United States in late August 2005. Winds from Katrina were initially only a category two hurricane, with a tidal surge ranked as a category three.

How many people died as a result of the subsequent failure of the levees and flooding after Hurricane Katrina struck?

Approximately 1,460 people lost their lives following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina.

Was the 2005 New Orleans disaster caused by a flood or a hurricane?

The initial cause of the disaster was Hurricane Katrina, which whipped up tides and surged rain and sea water against a very fragile levee system that protected New Orleans. The city is 49 percent below sea level, and so when the man-made levees broke, flood waters moved in and inundated much of the city.

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