Getting Tsunami Ready

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March 27, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 great Alaska earthquake and tsunami. The 9.2 magnitude earthquake uplifted the sea floor 33 feet on Montague Island in Prince William Sound, the greatest recorded tectonic uplift. Click here to watch a video animation of the tsunami that resulted from this 9.2 magnitude earthquake.

While we can’t prevent tsunamis, we can prepare and mitigate the risk. If you live on the coast and in low coastal areas, you are at risk for tsunamis. The most destructive tsunamis have occurred along the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. Schools, playgrounds, hospitals and homes are often built in areas vulnerable to tsunamis. That’s why the National Weather Service developed the TsunamiReady Program. This program helps cities in coastal areas prepare for potential tsunami-related consequences and minimize loss.

From the area where the tsunami originates, waves travel outward in all directions. Once the wave approaches the shore, it builds in height. The topography of the coastline and the ocean floor will influence the size of the wave. There may be more than one wave and the succeeding one may be larger than the one before. That is why a small tsunami at one beach can be a giant wave a few miles away.

Learn more about tsunamis on the FEMA website at

Is Your Community TsunamiReady?

View the TsunamiReady Communities map to find out! If your area is not on the list, join the more than 150 communities that are. To be recognized as a TsunamiReady community, here are some of the requirements that must be met:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
  • Have more than one way to receive tsunami warnings and to alert public; and
  • Develop a formal tsunami plan, which includes holding emergency exercises.

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