World Tsunami Awareness Day

World Tsunami Awareness DayIn December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly designated Nov. 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day, calling on all international bodies, countries, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals to observe the day to raise tsunami awareness and share innovative approaches to risk reduction, both before and after a tsunami.

This year, the focus of World Tsunami Awareness Day is on effective education and evacuation drills. Nov. 5 was chosen to honor the actions of a Japanese farmer and village chief credited with saving hundreds of lives from a tsunami in 1854. After recognizing the signs of a tsunami, he set fire to his harvested rice to attract the attention of villagers near the coast. As the villagers rushed to help, he told them to keep moving up the hill to safety, where they watched the tsunami destroy their village. In the aftermath, he helped his community rebuild to better withstand future events for the benefit of future generations.


It is important to know the signs of a tsunami. Although there may be public tsunami warnings, these systems could be damaged during a large earthquake. Know what to expect. Know what to do.

For people in Washington, the single biggest warning of a potential tsunami is a large earthquake.

If you are near the ocean when there is a large earthquake or there is a tsunami warning,


A tsunami may be about to hit if you:

  • Hear a tsunami warning siren or receive a tsunami alert.
  • Feel a strong earthquake near the ocean or a large lake. A strong earthquake is one that knocks people down, damages buildings, or lasts for longer than 20 seconds.
  • Notice a very large approaching wave.
  • See the water at the ocean disappear. As the tsunami approaches, sometimes sea level will rapidly drop as the wave gets taller.
  • Notice an unusual rapid rise in sea level. Some tsunamis will have a surge in front of them as they approach land. These surges can be very damaging and dangerous.
  • Notice a landslide that falls or slides into the ocean, a large lake, or a river.

EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY! if you notice any of these signs or hear a tsunami warning.

The Geologic Information Portal has a Tsunami Evacuation theme that allows you to search for addresses and locations of interest in Washington. The information on the portal and in the brochures is the same and is the most up-to-date source of information for the state.

World Tsunami Awareness Day

Learn more about tsunamis on our webpage

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