People freaked out after the NSW SES posted tsunami evacuation maps coinciding with a major storm

Screenshot. Photo: NSW SES.

The NSW State Emergency Service has released tsunami evacuation maps showing which areas were most at threat and would need to be evacuated if a tsunami took place.

The maps, released on Friday, highlight areas 10 metres above sea level, 1 kilometre or less inland and 10 kilometres up an estuary.

Although the SES stressed the release of the maps were “not a tsunami warning”, many were led to believe that the severe weather NSW was battling this weekend was linked to the possibility of a tsunami.

The developing east coast low has already hit Queensland and is continuing to move south today throughout NSW and will reach the south coast by late afternoon.

It has already prompted more than 3,000 calls for assistance to the SES with many seeking help with fallen trees, broken power lines, cars trapped in flash flooding and leaking roofs.

The tsunami maps indicated that anyone in the red zones would be under threat and would need to seek shelter on higher ground. That includes Sydney Harbour foreshore areas such as The Rocks, Millers Point, Pyrmont, Darling Harbour, Kirribilli and Double Bay.

NSW has been hit with wild weather this weekend. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

The post has received 6,000 shares. Many have pointed out the maps have triggered unnecessary fear due to its coincidental timing with the wild weather that has hit NSW.

Responses ranged from: “Wtf… Is there a reason you are posting this with a storm coming?”, “Shame there wasn’t a rethink on launching this today, with all the East Coast Low Hype going on atm” through to “Worst possible timing for release of these maps!”

User Amy Lesac said:

“I can see it’s not a warning but look at the comments. Many are confused (both about if its happening right now, the likelihood (slim), causes, etc) and thats likely exacerbated due to the warnings for the incoming storm. Seems obvious to me, but I read it and understand the science behind it. A flood map right before a storm is a pretty silly idea when people are quickly scrolling, not reading fully, and already on high alert / hysteria due to storm warnings (which often look similar). It might have been planned, but maybe next time such an announcement (cool and informational as it is), should be delayed, to cause the least confusion and panic.”

But many have also been quick to affirm that the maps were merely a precaution in the “very unlikely event of a land threat tsunami”.

User Nathan Aulsebrook said:

For anyone wondering, a tsunami to cause damage on the East Coast of Australia is extremely unlikely. The East Coast has a very long ‘shallow’ continental shelf meaning a tsunami that was to come would slowly lose its strength and basically dissipate before it reaches land. Whereas the Boxing Day tsunami in Indonesia caused so much damage because they have a shorter ‘steeper’ continental shelf meaning the tsunami didn’t lose much strength as it hit the land.

“It’s not a warning – this is a set of maps showing areas that will be asked to evacuate IF a warning were issued. The maps help you understand if you might be at risk so you can consider what actions you need to take in the very unlikely event a tsunami affecting the land was to occur,” wrote NSW SES.

You can find the full map here.

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