Photo of tsunami surge from West Hawaii Today
What was the real story yesterday? There was a massive earthquake in Chile yesterday, an 8.8 magnitude monster that was the fifth biggest tremor in recorded (i.e. on a seismometer) history. It produced a tsunami that would affect the entire Pacific Ocean basin. The coverage of the earthquake itself earns the news networks a C+, because they apparently still remember some of the science they learned six weeks ago in Haiti.
But...their coverage of the effects of the quake on the Pacific Basin and Hawaii? An F. Not even a gentleman's F+. They've done grievous damage to the entire concept of responsible journalism. They hated that the Indonesian tsunami struck without warning so that they couldn't plan for their coverage of a tragic human event. So this quake hits, and they have a half day's warning to prepare for the event in Hawaii. They were so incompetent that they could position stationary cameras in what seemed to be only three locations (including what seemed hours of pictures of one moronic surfer), and then breathlessly babbled for hours about the approaching maelstrom. The tsunami arrived, and they didn't recognize it happening in front of them. Then they acted disappointed that it wasn't the disaster they had been building up for hours. And they cut to commercials. This, of course, is what I was raging about yesterday.
The story they missed? A giant earthquake produced what could very well have been a colossal tsunami. The civil defense apparatus of the state of Hawaii gears up for the event, sounding the warning sirens hours ahead of the arrival of the tsunami surge, and doing an incredible job of warning the population of what could be coming. The people of Hawaii do the right thing, stocking up on emergency supplies and taking shelter in the appropriate locations. The evacuations run smoothly, from what little I hear, and if a monster tsunami had hit, the death toll would have been very low. The tsunami hits with an intensity at the lower end of the predictions, and a number of fascinating phenomena take place (and I am still waiting for some decent coverage of what actually happened). There was a collective sigh of relief, and life returns to normal, after a brief interruption and a little inconvenience. That was the real story, and it was for the most part untold.