Virginia Tech’s Robert Weiss, who studies earthquakes and tsunamis warns of potential new hazards in Haiti as the country grabbles with a deadly earthquake and the pending arrival of Tropical Storm Grace.

“The impacts of the natural hazards such as hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes on their own can be very devastating and cause disasters to unfold for those communities impacted,” Weiss said. “However, if multiple hazards strike in short succession the resilience of a community, a region, or even a country is tested, which is especially difficult for small island nations in the Caribbean.”

“Preparedness and emergency planning are key ingredients of success, keeping people out of harm’s way, and prevent disasters,” he said. “However, as we encounter more and more conditions due to climate change that do not have a historic analogue, we need to learn to rely on models to help us to better understand what is ahead of us.”

On Saturday, the country of Haiti suffered a magnitude 7.2 earthquake centered near the town of Petit-Trou-de-Nippes, killing an estimated 1,300 people and scores of buildings and homes either destroyed or damaged. As Tropical Storm Grace bears down on the country Monday night, forecasters predict drenching rains and heavy winds, both which can hamper rescue workers and put displaced residents in danger. Hispaniola, the island that is home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic is no stranger to earthquakes; it sits along two major fault lines.

About Weiss

Robert Weiss examines the impact of coastal hazards in the geologic past, today and in the future. His work analyzes how climate change and sea-level rise could change the nature and impacts of coastal hazards in coming years. He develops computer models and uses data analytics to translate the geologic record of coastal hazards into insights that improve the understanding of coastal hazards in the past and today. Weiss is an associate professor of natural hazards in the College of Science’s Department of Geosciences.

Schedule an interview

To secure a live or recorded interview with Robert Weiss, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.

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