White House Proposes Tsunami Warning Cuts

Scientists say it's a poor choice

By Kellie Onaga
|  Tuesday, May 28, 2013  |  Updated 8:37 AM PDT
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March 2011: Tsunami Hits California Coast

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SANTA CRUZ, CA - MARCH 11: A group of men try to save a Boston Whaler boat after it tipped over from a tsunami surge in a harbor on March 11, 2011 in Santa Cruz, California. A tsunami warning for Northern California was issued after an 8.9 earthquake hit Japan. (Photo by Kim White/Getty Images)

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It's not the news we want to hear in earthquake country.

Here in the Bay Area, we've seen our fair share of earthquake disasters, including surging waves from the Japanese earthquake one year ago that battered the coast and damaged Santa Cruz and Crescent City harbors.

But now, the San Jose Mercury News reports the Obama administration wants to reduce funding for the nation's tsunami warning and preparedness programs.

The White House's proposed 2013 budget would slice $4.6 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for tsunami programs that were expanded after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Among the proposed cuts:  reducing funding by $1 million for the country's network of 39 high-tech buoys in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Researchers use the buoys to confirm whether tsunamis are heading toward the U.S. and provide vital information such as when the waves will hit land.

Some top tsunami scientists are criticizing the administration's decision to cut NOAA funding.  They say $4.6 million, would go a long way to save human lives.

Also slated for slicing:  the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. That NOAA initiative could see nearly half it's budget gone.  It has helped California and other states along the coast coordinate tsunami warning systems.

 

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