Scientists on Oahu are considering changing the requirements when it comes to issuing tsunami alerts.
When the sirens go off, people in Hawaii take action. The sound means trouble's coming and it's time to get out of the way.
But some wonder if warnings are always necessary.
"We've had two events where we had to question whether a weather warning was necessary," said Gerard Fryer, with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. "One was the Chile tsunami of 2010, for which we issued a warning. The other was the Canada tsunami of 2012 where we issued a tsunami warning."
For the people it affects, unnecessary warnings equate to false alarms.
"Sou our orders are, if we think it is over 3 feet we have to issue a warning. Those are the standard rules, and right now it's beginning to look like it's too conservative," Fryer said.
That's why scientists are wondering if the threshold for a warning should be higher.
"So what that means is I've got to go back to the historical records and look at every tsunami that hit Hawaii and look at what lever of damage occurred," Fryer said.
PTWC scientists said they have better equipment now, along with more tidal and pressure gauges across the Pacific. There is also a better, faster overall indication of any impact a possible tsunami would have on the islands.
"A decade ago some of them only transmitted to us every two hours. Now most of them are every five minutes," Fryer said.
Equipped with more data, scientists feel it's time to take another look at the warning system so when they do issue one the public will take it seriously.
"We don't issue unnecessary warnings because when the big events happen we want to take it seriously. It's a safety issue," Fryer said.
The State Civil Defense said if and when the PTWC comes up with a different guide for tsunami warnings, it would form a tsunami advisory group to see if the changes will be adopted.