San Mateo County to replace tsunami warning devices after tests showed flaws 

click to enlarge Mild tsunami surges hit San Mateo County beaches after the 2011 earthquake in Japan. The county is set to replace eight warning devices starting this week. - KIM WHITE/2011 GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Kim White/2011 Getty Images file photo
  • Mild tsunami surges hit San Mateo County beaches after the 2011 earthquake in Japan. The county is set to replace eight warning devices starting this week.

Eight sirens meant to warn San Mateo County residents about the arrival of tsunamis are slated to be replaced after tests last week proved that the majority of them are not performing correctly.

Only three of the eight aging sirens located on the coast between Pacifica and Pescadero worked properly following Wednesday's routine test of the warning system, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Officials with the sheriff's Area Office of Emergency Services say they've been planning to replace the sirens for several months. After meeting with the contractor this week, the project start date has been pushed ahead to today. The project is expected to be completed before the next scheduled test Sept. 4.

The Sheriff's Office said the current sirens have been around for a long time.

Since the sirens won't be operable, safeguards will be put in place in the event that a tsunami warning becomes necessary.

"The plans involve having additional sheriff's deputies and police officers from throughout the county respond to the Coastside should a tsunami warning need to be issued," deputies said.

Officials say coastal residents should not fret while the sirens are inoperable.

The devices are only one part of the larger notification system along the coastline, as SMC Alerts, email, text, telephone, and radio and TV announcements also are employed.

In addition to those responding to the coastal area, officers would be tasked with providing public announcements in the event of a tsunami warning, the county said.

When the sirens are completed, the public will hear about it — both through testing and a series of public announcements, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Tsunami warnings were issued for the Peninsula and San Francisco after large earthquakes struck in Chile in 2010 and Japan in 2011.

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