What Tsunami Alert? Regional Officials Dismiss Rumour Circulating on Social Media

Large waves have been battering parts of Barbados and other islands, but officials say they have nothing to do with any tsunami. (Photo Credit: Barbados Today)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday March 6, 2018
– No tsunami alerts have been issued for anywhere in the Caribbean, and any warnings about the approach of any such monster wave is a hoax.

That assurance was given by several weather and disaster officials yesterday, after messages began circulating on social media stating that Caribbean islands were among more than 30 countries under tsunami alert following a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Costa Rica.

In Barbados, Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services, Sonia Nurse, indicated that last Friday, March 2, the MET Office issued a High Surf Advisory and small craft warning for Barbados, which is valid until tomorrow. However, she stressed this did not signify a tsunami threat.

She also emphasised that tsunamis warnings issued by the Barbados MET Office would not be transferred to the public via Whatstapp, but through official sources, including the Barbados Government Information Service.

Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Kerry Hinds further explained that the MET Office was Barbados’ Tsunami Warning Focal Point, and was responsible for receiving and issuing official tsunami information from the Seismic Research Centre and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

She urged members of the public to ensure that information on hazards, alerts and warnings was received from official sources. Hinds also reminded residents that while there was no way of knowing if or when an earthquake would occur, they should know the natural warning signs of a tsunami.

Over in Antigua and Barbuda, climatologist Dale Destin also dismissed the tsunami warning report, saying that the only thing the country was experiencing was high surf which had caused flooding in some areas.

“There is no tsunami bulletin in effect for Antigua. There are no known significant earthquakes that have happened in the past 24 hours and you need an earthquake to generate a tsunami,” he said yesterday.

“Be mindful of others who are just trying to cause unnecessary distress and worries. Seemingly, they’re using the high seas, the high surfs and large swells as an excuse to cause some amount of havoc across the region. But this is just a malicious message.”

Similar sentiments were also disseminated in other Caribbean countries which have been experiencing high surf.

A high-surf warning has been issued for St Kitts and Nevis and the rest of the Leeward Islands until Friday at 4 p.m.

The Samuel Hunkins Drive and the Charlestown Pier in Nevis remained closed yesterday due to high surf. (Photo credit: St Kitts & Nevis Observer)

The Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD) said northerly swells will cause hazardous breaking waves, high surf, life-threatening rip currents and potential flooding of some low-lying coastal areas. Beach goers have been advised to avoid the waters, mainly on the northern side of the islands.

“It is very important for the public to note that the sea swell is not related to any tsunami occurrence. The type of waves has no connection with tsunami waves,” NDMD said in a statement.

Caribe Wave 2018 – a regional tsunami drill in which Caribbean islands will participate – will be conducted on March 15. The goal of that exercise is to strengthen the knowledge of evacuation routes and communication patterns, and to assess the speed people would need to get from unsafe zones to the safe ground.

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