| South Pacific Basin tsunami, September 29-30, 2009 - :6987 | National Weather Service (NWS)
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South Pacific Basin tsunami, September 29-30, 2009
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  • Description:
    "A magnitude 8.0 earthquake occurred on September 29, 2009, 120 miles southwest of American Samoa. This major earthquake generated a tsunami that took many lives and caused significant destruction to neighboring islands in the Pacific Ocean. With only 17 minutes between the beginning of the earthquake and the arrival of the first waves in American Samoa, preparedness efforts and rapid warnings were critical for residents to protect themselves. Although reduced in size, the tsunami generated by this earthquake reached the Hawaiian Islands and eventually the West Coast of the continental United States. There were no major impacts in Hawaii or along the West Coast. The mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service is to provide weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters, and ocean areas for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. This mission includes warnings for tsunami events. The National Weather Service chartered a team to assess the performance of our offices and the effectiveness of our services as they related to this tsunami event. The team focused on tsunami-affected areas served by the National Weather Service in American Samoa and Hawaii. The goal of this report is to share best practices and challenges with all our offices in order to continuously improve services. Without a doubt, strong tsunami outreach and education efforts by the International Tsunami Information Center, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the Weather Service Office in Pago Pago, American Samoa officials, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration partners saved numerous lives. In fact, because of public tsunami education and outreach, people knew what actions to take based on the earthquake duration, magnitude, and the receding of the ocean. However, challenges were identified in the areas of internal and external communication and warning systems during this major disaster. These are further detailed in this report"--Preface.

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