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SoCal may be unprepared for tsunami

September 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Southern California could be unprepared to warn against an impending tsunami in the event of an earthquake immediately off the coast.A national panel presented findings of a study on tsunami warning systems to Congress Friday, revealing some vulnerabilities in the warning system.

"The main thing we want to get out is how ill-prepared we are for local tsunamis, tsunamis that are generated very close to the coast," said Professor Costas Synolakis at the USC Tsunami Research Center, who was part of the team of scientists on the panel.

He stressed that Southern California is unprepared to deal with tsunamis that are generated very close to shore because the warning time would be only a matter of minutes, rather than the hours-long warning we had in instances such as the Chilean earthquake earlier this year.

"These are rare events but extremely high impact events," he said. "Imagine the cost of evacuating 500,000 people off the beaches in Southern California or closing down the ports."

Synolakis said the results of the report to Congress will help the country better prepare for these kinds of situations.

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