Following a tsunami scare in along the West Coast in June, stateand federal officials are looking into a series of technical errorsthat delayed the issuing of a tsunami warning in the San FranciscoBay Area.

On June 15th, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast ofNorthern California, generating fears that a tsunami could affectthe West Coast from Alaska to Mexico. Despite the fact that thetsunami alert was called off within half an hour, emergencyofficials expressed concern that the Bay Area's residents were notnotified of a possible problem until more than an hour after theinitial earthquake. A combination of problems included computer andtelecommunication malfunctions, in addition to a failure of theCalifornia Warning System, part of a national telephone hot lineset up for nuclear warnings in the cold war, and the federalemergency alert broadcast system.

Following the Boxing Day tsunami that devastated much of thelands bordering the Indian Ocean, many in the United Statesquestioned this country's readiness to deal with similar disasters.The Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency noted that tsunamis alongthe west coast of North America are not all that rare, but stressedthat one significant difference between tsunamis in the IndianOcean and those in the Pacific is the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration's tsunami warning system.

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