Sunday, April 14, 2024

Auckland to test tsunami sirens on Sunday

Auckland’s bi-annual tsunami siren test will take place at the beginning of daylight saving on Sunday 24 September at midday. 

“It’s important to test the sirens to make sure they’re working as expected. There’s no cause for alarm during the testing and no action is required by the public,” said Auckland Emergency Management General Manager, Paul Amaral.

Located at a number of coastal sites, sirens give a combination of alert sounds and voice instructions advising what actions residents should take in a real emergency.  You can check and listen to the siren sound sample on the Auckland Emergency Management website [.WAV]

“We would also appreciate if you could fill out the tsunami siren testing reporting form to let us know if you heard the sirens during the test and what it sounded like,” said Mr Amaral.

Where are tsunami warning sirens located in Auckland?

Rodney: Point Wells, Whangateau, Omaha

Albany Ward:  Waiwera, Ōrewa, Hobsonville, Herald Island 

Waitākere: Bethells / Te Henga, Piha North, Piha South, Karekare, Whatipu, Little Huia, Te Atatū South, Te Atatū Peninsula North 

“Please note that tsunami sirens at some of these locations have been vandalised or stolen. This means the audible warnings for a tsunami threat at those locations will not be functioning or functioning below full capacity,” Mr Amaral said.

Changes to tsunami risk and alerting 

The Auckland Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee has voted to decommission the aging and compromised Meerkat tsunami siren network.  

Mr Amaral acknowledged that the decision may concern some communities. 

“We want to assure our communities that there will be timely communication in the event of a potential tsunami,” he said.

“If there is a tsunami threat, an Emergency Mobile Alert will be broadcast to all capable mobile phones. As well as this, news media and social media channels will be used to alert Aucklanders.”

Councillor Sharon Stewart, Auckland Council’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee chairperson says tsunami siren testing is a good prompt for Aucklanders to familiarise themselves about what to do in an emergency. 

“Aucklanders have become increasingly familiar with the Emergency Mobile Alert as an effective way to alert them to danger, having experienced this through the pandemic and during this year’s extreme weather events. The Emergency Mobile Alert will be used to alert Aucklanders to a potential tsunami,” she said.

“The siren testing day is a good prompt for Aucklanders to talk to their whānau about planning for emergencies and importantly organising a getaway bag and meeting place.”

Visit getready.govt.nz for great tips on making a plan for an emergency.  

This decommissioning decision only relates to the older siren network, and not to the two new sirens installed in 2020 in Ōrewa, which are working as expected and have not experienced any vandalism or thefts.  

New computer modelling of Auckland’s tsunami risk has led to the development of new tsunami evacuation maps. When the new evacuation maps are released, residents might notice a change in how they look.  

The traditional 3-colour maps will be replaced by a simpler version which shows the area at risk when a land-based warning is issued, and when a marine-based warning is issued. 

What are the official tsunami alert channels in the event of a tsunami emergency? 

In the event of a tsunami emergency, an Emergency Mobile Alert (EMA) will be triggered. Your mobile phone will receive a message which will tell you what the emergency is and what to do. 

Besides Emergency Mobile Alerts, we will also get the messages out on radio, television, news media and social media platforms. However, if you see the natural warning signs, evacuate immediately to higher ground without waiting for an official alert. 

  • For more information on tsunami warnings, visit Auckland Emergency Management website

What are the natural warning signs for tsunami? 

Remember LONG or STRONG, GET GONE. 

If you feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more, see a sudden rise or fall in sea level, hear loud or unusual noises from the sea, don’t wait for an official warning. Go immediately to the nearest high ground or as far inland as you can, taking the route quickest for you. 

Be prepared 

Tsunami testing time is a great reminder to check out whether you live, work, or play in one of Auckland’s three tsunami evacuation zones. Check the Auckland hazard viewer map. We are updating the tsunami evacuation maps this year so remember to check back regularly to see if your zone has changed from the previous year. 

Prepare your household emergency plan and practice it so everyone knows what to do in an emergency and what you need to take if you are evacuating. 

Check the tsunami preparedness tips and what to do before, during and after a tsunami. 

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