My thoughts are with the people on the coast of Texas. I was born in Texas, and with the exception of my brother, my entire family lives there. (They are in the center towards the north, so it is far from the hurricane.)
So far, there have been two deaths. 😦 And it looks like the damage has been horrible. I sincerely hope that the people of Texas can recover.
I was looking at twitter this morning. Somebody said that this hurricane, and Hurricane Katrina AND THE JAPANESE TSUNAMI were all predicted. I think what was meant was long-term prediction (years in advance.) I stated that I thought that this was wrong. The tsunami was not predicted, not with any sort of accuracy. And anyway, hurricanes and tsunamis that result from an earthquake are completely different. As far as predicting goes, you can NOT group them together.
First, let’s talk about short-term prediction. NOBODY knows in the short-term when the next earthquake will be, or where, or how strong. We do not have that technology. At most, we have a few seconds of warning. (The first waves come and set off alarms. Then the stronger waves come a few seconds later.)
The tsunami on March 11? When the actual earthquake hit, the tsunami hit the coast about forty minutes to a couple hours later. So imagine yourself sitting there on the sofa. A huge earthquake hits. You don’t know where its epicenter is. So you check your phone or your emergency radio and there is a tsunami warning. So at THAT point you have about an hour. What if you don’t have a car? What if you are elderly and can barely walk? What if your children are at school and you have no idea if they are safe? What if your mother is out at the beach taking a walk? What if your grandfather is working at his store in another part of town, and HE has no car? Remember, you only have an hour.
What if you don’t live so very close to the coast, and assume your home won’t get hit by the tsunami—so you don’t leave? But your house DOES get hit by the tsunami, and with great force? (This is what happened to many people.)
I didn’t live on the coast, so these are all my imaginations of what went on that day. I know that people did NOT anticipate a tsunami that was as huge as the one that came.
Second, let’s talk about long-term prediction. Yes, there are long-term predictions of earthquakes. Ever since I came to Japan in the nineteen nineties, a major earthquake has been due to hit Tokyo. It has not hit yet. It is still due to hit, though. When? We. Don’t. Know. Exactly. We just know that it’s coming any minute now (or any decade now) like a bus that is quite late.
When we first moved to Tohoku, my husband told me Tohoku was due to have an earthquake. He meant one with an epicenter on land, a less major one that actually occurred. He didn’t know that in 2011 a 9.1 megaquake would occur on the ocean floor. NOBODY KNEW.
I just read in the newspaper the other day that a megaquake is now predicted for the Tokyo region and for the southern Japan (Kyushu) region. If you want to read the long-term predictions for Japan in detail click here and scroll down to page fifteen.
Living in a country like Japan, it’s not so much, “Oh, an earthquake will occur next Tuesday. Better be ready.” It’s more that everybody knows that at any point an earthquake and/or a tsunami can occur. So the government needs to consider this when making tsunami walls along the sea, when using nuclear power for energy, when creating reclaimed land, and so on. (I have heard that the towns with higher tsunami walls fared better than the towns with lower tsunami walls, a reasonable expectation.) September first is Disaster Preparedness Day in Japan. We all need to be ready!