“The nation’s main tsunami detection system experienced an outage March 9 when a broken water pipe in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maryland headquarters knocked out the program’s servers, according to an agency spokeswoman. Ocean monitors positioned around the globe couldn’t send information to the country’s two tsunami warning centers, leaving a critical part the country’s alert system offline, tsunami experts said.
As agency employees scrambled to create a backup communication system, leaders tried to keep the problems quiet, according to internal emails obtained by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Staff should “avoid discussing the ongoing [Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis] outages on social media,” read an email sent to employees at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii on March 11, the anniversary of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that generated the Tohoku tsunami in Japan. The tsunami destroyed communities and led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.”