National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2005

The U.S. National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program: A successful state–federal partnership

Bernard, E.N.

Nat. Hazards, 35(1), Special Issue, U.S. National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, 5–24, doi: 10.1007/s11069-004-2401-5 (2005)

The U.S. National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) is a State/Federal partnership created to reduce tsunami hazards along U.S. coastlines. Established in 1996, NTHMP coordinates the efforts of five Pacific States: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington with the three Federal agencies responsible for tsunami hazard mitigation: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). In the 7 years of the program it has, 1. established a tsunami forecasting capability for the two tsunami warning centers through the combined use of deep ocean tsunami data and numerical models; 2. upgraded the seismic network enabling the tsunami warning centers to locate and size earthquakes faster and more accurately; 3. produced 22 tsunami inundation maps covering 113 coastal communities with a population at risk of over a million people; 4. initiated a program to develop tsunami-resilient communities through awareness, education, warning dissemination, mitigation incentives, coastal planning, and construction guidelines; 5. conducted surveys that indicate a positive impact of the programrsquos activities in raising tsunami awareness. A 17-member Steering Group consisting of representatives from the five Pacific States, NOAA, FEMA, USGS, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) guides NTHMP. The success of the program has been the result of a personal commitment by steering group members that has leveraged the total Federal funding by contributions from the States and Federal Agencies at a ratio of over six matching dollars to every NTHMP dollar. Twice yearly meetings of the steering group promote communication between scientists and emergency managers, and among the State and Federal agencies. From its initiation NTHMP has been based on the needs of coastal communities and emergency managers and has been results driven because of the cycle of year-to-year funding for the first 5 years. A major impact of the program occurred on 17 November 2003, when an Alaskan tsunami warning was canceled because real-time, deep ocean tsunami data indicated the tsunami would be non-damaging. Canceling this warning averted an evacuation in Hawaii, avoiding a loss in productivity valued at $68M.

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