Thursday, July 16, 2009

National Advisory - Tsunami: Potential threat to NZ

Don't panic, it's been cancelled...

Woohoo, something that isn't the bloody flu!

At 10:21 pm last night my phone beeped at me to say I had a text, and being part of the generation who are addicted to their mobile phones, I pounced on it to see who had sent me a late night message. My number must very similar to the number belonging to some other young lady by the name of Emma, as I occassionally get random texts along the lines of "hey em. wot u werin". To my surprise, it wasn't a wrong number booty call, but the National Warning System. I could tell by the use of complete words and punctuation. "National Advisory - Tsunami: Potential threat to NZ No:01. Refer to fax or email." So refer I did, as fast as I could.

Somehow I'd missed the texts in my inbox from GeoNet telling me there had been a 6.6 and a 6.1 earthquake near Tuatapere (wherever the hell that was...). I didn't feel the quake at all, I think I was vacuuming at the time (which would probably be the reason I didn't hear my phone beep, come to think about it.), so Tuatapere obviously isn't anywhere near here. Turns out it's down Fiordland way. gets the advisories at the same time that we do, and by 10:25 there was a story about it. The reported size of the quake has varied a bit - GNS first reported it at 6.6, then revised it to 7.8. US Geological Service had it at 7.8 and has revised it back down to 7.6. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre initially had it at 8.2. I'm going to go with 7.8.

There was a bit of down time while we waited for the sea level gauges to tell us if any tsunami had actually been generated, but once the gauge at Jacksons Bay told us that a wave just 17cm high had been generated, the Minstry cancelled the potential threat advisory. A point to note, if you feel an earthquake that makes it hard for you to stand up, and you live by the sea or are on the beach, head for higher ground ASAP - we won't have time to tell you to evacuate.

The cancellation came through at 11.12pm. Evacuation warnings were being screened on Australian TV after that time... Apparently theatregoers at a performance at the beachside Bondi Pavillion in Sydney were evacuated. By the time I went to bed, none of the NZ news websites had actually published that the advisory had been cancelled - which is somewhat frustrating. Telling people they can stop panicking (if they did) is just as important as letting people know there might be a problem!

The faultline down there is still going ping quite enthusiastically with aftershocks. Check out the seismographs and recent quake information at And here's a article about it -

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