QCOSTARICA – The communities of Quepos, Esterillos, Jacó and Tivives, in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific, now have special signs and sirens to alert residents and tourists in the event of a Tsunami.
The warning systems were installed the last week and at a cost of US$119,000 (¢ 78 million) donated by the United States Government.
The four coastal communities now have a total of 300 signs that tell people where the safe places are in case of a tsunami and sirens that warn people on the beach that they should evacuate immediately.
This project started at the beginning of the year and was developed jointly by the Humanitarian Assistance Program of the Office of the Defense Representative of the United States Embassy in Costa Rica and the National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Care ( CNE).
Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. But as the waves travel inland, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases.
Large tsunamis may continue for days in some locations, reaching their peak often a couple of hours after arrival and gradually tapering off after that. The time between tsunami crests (the tsunami’s period) ranges from approximately five minutes to two hours. Dangerous tsunami currents can last for days.
The first warning is an earthquake of great force and the second, the receding of the water from the coastline.
How do you know a tsunami is coming? Witnesses have reported that an approaching tsunami is sometimes preceded by a noticeable fall or rise in the water level. If you see the ocean receding unusually rapidly or far it’s a good sign that a big wave is on its way. Go to high ground immediately.
In Costa Rica, the National Tsunami Monitoring System (Sinamot), of the National University (UNA), is in charge of making the warnings. It is expected that in these communities, when they receive the alert, the sirens are activated and residents will be in charge of guiding people to safe places.