Vacationing in Tsunami Land

A little forethought can be a good thing.

by Eric Holdeman / April 4, 2016

Kelly Kasper puts out a weekly newsletter with different disaster preparedness tips. Her tip on vacationing in coastal areas that are within tsunami inundation zones is a good reminder that you can still go to the ocean, but do it in a safer mode by planning ahead. Planning where to stay and taking a NOAA Weather Radio with you are excellent ideas. Also, planning as to what route to take to evacuate and looking for any high points where you might be able to walk/run to is another good idea. 



National Tsunami week began on March 27th and continues through April 2nd in 2016. This is particularly fitting as March represents the anniversary of two historical Tsunami events. The first occurred in Anchorage, Alaska on March 27th of 1964 and the more recent event occurred in Tohuko, Japan on March 11th of 2011.

I suspect that most of us have vivid memories of the Tohuko, Japan earthquake and subsequentl tsunami that followed. I personally remember seeing the enormously large and powerful waves (some reaching over 100 feet) destroy the coastline of Japan as well as take the lives of more than 15,000 people. This is particularly monumental, since Japan is the leading country on earthquake and tsunami preparedness measures. The Japanese country and people are by far more prepared then their counterparts in the United States.

Which led me to this weeks tip, as I have been bombarded by posts from friends on Facebook sharing highlights from their family vacations in areas within the "Ring of Fire." I for one love spending time on the coast and frolicking in the ocean. I can spend hours swimming and diving into the rolling waves. However, I also recognize the power of the ocean and the potential risk for tsunamis in these areas.

Last summer, I had a conversation with a client of mine. She was sharing that her family was planning a family reunion along the Pacific Coast of Washington State. I asked her where they were specifically going and she shared that their destination was Ocean Shores. As you will see, on the map, shown to the right, Ocean Shores is located on a peninsula.

They were planning to reside in the southern portion of the peninsula and as a result my client brought her NOAA weather radio with her, for early warnings. We discussed the need to familiarize her family with the evacuation routes and options beforehand and to make certain to respond immediately if they felt an earthquake, were warned by the coastal sirens or the NOAA weather radio of an impending tsunami.

She shared with me afterwards that she would likely plan to stay at the north end of Ocean Shores in the future, to allow for additional response times, if needed. I hope my friends that are vacationing in the warmth of Hawaii and beyond are also making themselves familiar with their destination's tsunami evacuation plans and notification plans.

For more information on preparing for a tsunami, please visit the National Tsunami Preparedness Week website.