Monday 17 January 2022, Apia Samoa. The public are requested to familiarise themselves with the threshold table for geological impacts in Samoa.
The Chairman of Samoa’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) made the call during an update press conference with the media this afternoon following a tsunami watch in place over Samoa as a result of a massive undersea volcanic eruption near Tonga on Saturday afternoon.
Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo said several members of the public were unaware of the three categories adopted by Samoa’s Meteorological Services, and were confused over the weekend’s official warning statuses.
“It is important to familiarise ourselves with these terms to avoid confusion and unnecessary panic in the future”.
The Tsunami Advisory level means a distant earthquake or tsunamigenic event has occurred and a tsunami is possible. “The public are requires to stay alert and be prepared for more information.
The Advisory level can be elevated to a Tsunami Watch when there has been a tsunami with potential for strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near coastal waters. “The public are asked to stay out of the water and away from beaches and follow instructions from our first responders,” said Agafili.
The highest level is a Tsunami Warning where a tsunami that may cause widespread flooding is expected or occurring. Dangerous coastal flooding are possible and may continue for several hours or days.
“This is the state of evacuation, sirens will be sounded and all must move to higher ground and to set evacuation sites,” said the NEOC Chair.
The confusion may be caused by the fact that in many other jurisdictions including American Samoa, the tsunami alerts are different.
The 3 categories used in the US and American Samoa are 1) Warning, 2) Advisory and 3) Watch.
While Samoa uses 1) Warning, 2) Watch 3) Advisory.
“We also humbly inform the public that Bulletins issued by the Samoa Meteorological Service represent the official warning status for Samoa”.
Samoa was under Tsunami Watch on Saturday night, downgraded to a Tsunami Advisory on Sunday morning. The Samoa Meteorological Services then cancelled the advisory at 6am Monday morning.00