In August, I spent 10 days in Costa Rica on vacation in a rented house three steps from the Pacific Ocean.
While we were there, a 7.3 earthquake struck off the coast of El Salvador in the early morning hours of August 27. The initial quake was followed by a 5.4 aftershock. The quakes caused a 10-centimeter (3.94 inches) tsunami to surge toward the El Salvador coast, but there were no reports of injuries or property damage.
A week after I returned to the United States, another more powerful 7.6 temblor shook Costa Rica on Sept. 5, not far from where we had rented our house. Authorities declared a tsunami warning for a host of Central American countries.
News of the two earthquakes off Central America reminded me of the searing images from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami off Sumatra that killed an estimated 230,000 people. No one can forget the waves washing over the beach and slamming through trees before engulfing a pool and homes.
That's exactly the kind of scene I woke up to every morning in my second-floor suite: a 30-foot pool, then lush tropical trees and finally the ocean beyond.
Unlike many victims of the Indonesia quake, we were warned. I read news reports on my iPhone and although the August 27 tsunami warning was later rescinded, it's a testament to the progress we've made with our early-warning tsunami system.
Though my life didn't need saving in this instance, it has doubtless saved others.
And, yes, taking a vacation in Costa Rica is well worth the tsunami risk.
-Cyril Tuohy, managing editor
October 1, 2012
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