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Tsunami Lessons from
“The Impossible”
BRIAN SHIRO
NOAA PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER
GET READY EWA BEACH EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS FAIR 2015
The Impossible
Disclaimer
The scenes we are about to show are graphic and
depict the violent nature of tsunamis. They may
not be suitable for young children.
Tsunami Scene Discussion
• Tsunami sounds
like “thousands of
big planes.”
• No warning?
(Animals seemed
to detect it first.)
• Tsunami looks like
a “huge black
wall.”
• Maria clung to a
tree and survived.
The actual tsunami at a resort in Thailand
Did they get the science right?
Mostly, yes. Survivors say the film
depicted actual events very well.
However, the movie does not show the initial recession
of the water and accurate timing between waves.
Crest-first
vs. Trough-
first Waves
• The earthquake fault
pushes water up on
one side and down on
the other.
• The first wave going
one direction (west)
was crest-first, but the
first wave going the
other direction (east)
was trough-first.
• So Thailand first saw
a recession of the sea.
Actual Tsunami Footage
Video shot by survivors at resorts in Thailand shows the power of the tsunami
and the safety of vertical evacuation.
Near-Drowning Scene Discussion
• Violence of the
tsunami currents
and debris.
• You can’t swim in
a tsunami.
• Each wave carries
more debris.
• Maria’s wounds:
broken nose, torn
leg, water-filled
lungs, internal
bleeding.
Over 5100 people died in Thailand
Aftermath Scene Discussion
• Get to safety
between waves.
Danger lasts
hours.
• Dangerous
debris
everywhere.
• Be strong.
• Help others if
you can.
Devastation in Thailand
Pre and Post Tsunami
Phone Scene Discussion
• Have an out-of-
state person you
can call and
memorize the
number.
• Phones and power
will be limited.
• Dealing with the
psychological
trauma while
searching for
survivors.
• Generosity of
strangers.
Despair in searching for loved ones
Could “The Impossible”
happen here in Hawaii?
Thailand-Hawaii Similarities
• Many resorts and tourists in both places.
• Similar education and evacuation challenges.
• Similar tropical climates.
Thailand-Hawaii Differences
• Hawaii has no subduction zone nearby. Large local
tsunamis are extremely unlikely here.
• Most large tsunamis in Hawaii come from far away and
give ample time to evacuate.
• Hawaii has a well-developed tsunami warning system.
Tsunamis Affecting Hawaii
17
Major Tsunamis in
Hawaii:
April 1, 1946 – Alaska (M 8.6)
May 22, 1960 – Chile (M 9.5)
Travel Times to Hawaii:
Local – minutes
Alaska – 5 hours
Japan – 7 hours
S. Pacific – 7 hours
Chile – 14 hours
Tsunami Safety Tips
•  If you are near the beach and feel strong earthquake shaking, that is
your warning. Head to higher ground.
§  Walking mauka for 15-20 minutes or going to the 4th floor of a strong
building is usually sufficient. Do not drive!
•  An unusual draining of the sea is a natural tsunami warning sign,
although this doesn’t happen in every tsunami situation.
•  A tsunami is a series of waves, and the first wave may not be the
biggest.
§  Since the time between waves is 5-60 minutes, the danger can last for
several hours. Be prepared with food, water, and a radio.
•  Tsunami waves wrap around islands, so all coastlines are at risk.
•  If a warning is issued, follow instructions.
§  Local warnings (for tsunamis generated in Hawaii) require immediate
action, but warnings from distant events are less urgent.
•  If you are in a boat at sea, make sure you’re in deep water and stay
there. Bays and harbors, however, are dangerous places.
18
Stay safe and enjoy the beach!
Mahalo!
Brian Shiro
NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
1845 Wasp Blvd Bldg 176
Honolulu, HI 96818
brian.shiro@noaa.gov
Extra Slides
Hospital Scene Discussion
• Hospitals
overwhelmed
with patients.
• It is possible be
reunited with
your loved ones.
• Help others.
• Don’t give up
hope. Filmed at the actual hospital in Takua Pa

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Tsunami Lessons from “The Impossible”

  • 1. Tsunami Lessons from “The Impossible” BRIAN SHIRO NOAA PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER GET READY EWA BEACH EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS FAIR 2015
  • 3. Disclaimer The scenes we are about to show are graphic and depict the violent nature of tsunamis. They may not be suitable for young children.
  • 4. Tsunami Scene Discussion • Tsunami sounds like “thousands of big planes.” • No warning? (Animals seemed to detect it first.) • Tsunami looks like a “huge black wall.” • Maria clung to a tree and survived. The actual tsunami at a resort in Thailand
  • 5. Did they get the science right? Mostly, yes. Survivors say the film depicted actual events very well. However, the movie does not show the initial recession of the water and accurate timing between waves.
  • 6. Crest-first vs. Trough- first Waves • The earthquake fault pushes water up on one side and down on the other. • The first wave going one direction (west) was crest-first, but the first wave going the other direction (east) was trough-first. • So Thailand first saw a recession of the sea.
  • 7. Actual Tsunami Footage Video shot by survivors at resorts in Thailand shows the power of the tsunami and the safety of vertical evacuation.
  • 8. Near-Drowning Scene Discussion • Violence of the tsunami currents and debris. • You can’t swim in a tsunami. • Each wave carries more debris. • Maria’s wounds: broken nose, torn leg, water-filled lungs, internal bleeding. Over 5100 people died in Thailand
  • 9. Aftermath Scene Discussion • Get to safety between waves. Danger lasts hours. • Dangerous debris everywhere. • Be strong. • Help others if you can. Devastation in Thailand
  • 10. Pre and Post Tsunami
  • 11. Phone Scene Discussion • Have an out-of- state person you can call and memorize the number. • Phones and power will be limited. • Dealing with the psychological trauma while searching for survivors. • Generosity of strangers. Despair in searching for loved ones
  • 12. Could “The Impossible” happen here in Hawaii? Thailand-Hawaii Similarities • Many resorts and tourists in both places. • Similar education and evacuation challenges. • Similar tropical climates. Thailand-Hawaii Differences • Hawaii has no subduction zone nearby. Large local tsunamis are extremely unlikely here. • Most large tsunamis in Hawaii come from far away and give ample time to evacuate. • Hawaii has a well-developed tsunami warning system.
  • 13. Tsunamis Affecting Hawaii 17 Major Tsunamis in Hawaii: April 1, 1946 – Alaska (M 8.6) May 22, 1960 – Chile (M 9.5) Travel Times to Hawaii: Local – minutes Alaska – 5 hours Japan – 7 hours S. Pacific – 7 hours Chile – 14 hours
  • 14. Tsunami Safety Tips •  If you are near the beach and feel strong earthquake shaking, that is your warning. Head to higher ground. §  Walking mauka for 15-20 minutes or going to the 4th floor of a strong building is usually sufficient. Do not drive! •  An unusual draining of the sea is a natural tsunami warning sign, although this doesn’t happen in every tsunami situation. •  A tsunami is a series of waves, and the first wave may not be the biggest. §  Since the time between waves is 5-60 minutes, the danger can last for several hours. Be prepared with food, water, and a radio. •  Tsunami waves wrap around islands, so all coastlines are at risk. •  If a warning is issued, follow instructions. §  Local warnings (for tsunamis generated in Hawaii) require immediate action, but warnings from distant events are less urgent. •  If you are in a boat at sea, make sure you’re in deep water and stay there. Bays and harbors, however, are dangerous places. 18
  • 15. Stay safe and enjoy the beach! Mahalo! Brian Shiro NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center 1845 Wasp Blvd Bldg 176 Honolulu, HI 96818 brian.shiro@noaa.gov
  • 17. Hospital Scene Discussion • Hospitals overwhelmed with patients. • It is possible be reunited with your loved ones. • Help others. • Don’t give up hope. Filmed at the actual hospital in Takua Pa