Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Don't Panic

The advice given on the outside of the book that gave Douglas Adam's "trilogy" its title (I mean of course the "Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy") is always a useful thing to keep in mind, especially in the days of media sensationalism.

Today's worrying threat is a Tsunami, and like I said above I don't want you to panic, and that is for a couple of reasons, the first one is - you may have missed it already (The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii's updated timings for the arrival of a tsunami in New Zealand are: East Cape at 9.44am, Gisborne 10am, North Cape 10.12am, Napier 10.40am, Wellington 10.50am, Auckland (east coast) 11.12am, Auckland (west) 11.39am, Lyttelton 11.55am New Plymouth 12.17pm, Nelson 12.23 pm and Dunedin 12.31pm) and the second being as is clearly highlighted in the NZPA bulletin that the ODT website is carrying the wave is very unlikely to cause much damage - being mostly less than 1m in height when it comes ashore. That said - DON'T GO TO THE BEACH TO WATCH IT.

"It is very important that the public should keep away from beaches and shorelines."

Mr Swinney said that people who live in coastal areas should continue listening to More FM, Classic Hits or Newstalk ZB radio stations for further instructions.

So often we scientists and skeptics find a lot of fault in journalism for pushing sensationalism or not getting the facts even remotely correct. But it is nice to see that in a serious situation all hands are on deck and working together. So keep a weather ear out for any further warnings and follow any civil defense instructions especially if asked to head to higher ground.

The earthquake that caused the tsunami was an 8.3 on the Richter Scale and was centred 205 km south of Apia in Samoa at around 6.50 am this morning (NZDT). It sounds like parts of Samoa were very badly shaken and that there has been some loss of life, so our thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones, and to those who have lost homes and lively hoods.