The County of Santa Barbara recognizes March 27 through March 31 as Tsunami Preparedness Week. With approximately 110 miles of coastline, Santa Barbara County is susceptible to the impacts of tsunamis. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. All coastal areas, including locally frequented beaches, and some areas inland have the potential to become inundated if the conditions indicate a tsunami threat exists. A tsunami advisory was last issued in Santa Barbara County in January 2022 following a volcanic eruption off the Tonga Islands.
Being prepared before an emergency is critical and tsunamis are no exception. Community members are recommended to take the following actions to prepare:
- Know the tsunami hazard zones for areas you live and/or visit.
- People living, visiting, or working in a tsunami hazard area must be aware of the warning signs that indicate potential tsunami activity including a strong earthquake, the ocean withdrawing or rising rapidly, or a loud, roaring sound coming from the sea.
- Identify an evacuation location that is on high ground or inland, away from the water and accessible by foot. Evacuation sites should be accessible by walking and not dependent on a vehicle. Note: Some beach areas have tsunami evacuation route maps onsite.
- Practice walking your evacuation routes to make evacuation quicker and easier.
- Register for emergency alerts from local public safety officials.
Although it can be tempting to want to observe tsunami activities or be in the water, it is important to stay out of the water and away from the tsunami hazard zone until public safety officials have deemed it safe to return. The first wave may not be the last or the largest and the danger may last for hours or days.
There are three levels of notifications that exist for tsunamis. People living, visiting, or working in a tsunami hazard area must be aware of the warning signs that indicate potential tsunami activity; there may not be time for public safety officials to send a notification before the effects of a tsunami are felt. Nevertheless, beachgoers should familiarize themselves with the following notifications and follow directions from public officials:
- Tsunami Watch: A tsunami may later impact the area.
- Tsunami Advisory: A tsunami with the potential to generate strong currents or waves is imminent, expected, or occurring.
- Tsunami Warning: A tsunami with the potential to generate widespread inundation is imminent, expected, or occurring. Evacuations of identified tsunami inundation areas will be required.
“During this unprecedented year of weather-related events, we encourage our community not to lose sight of the other threats our coastal communities face,” shared Director for the County Office of Emergency Management Kelly Hubbard. “We encourage residents and visitors of our beautiful coastlines to take time this week to identify tsunami hazard zones and how they would evacuate the beach on foot in the case of a tsunami. A few minutes of preparation now can lead to life-saving actions later.”
To learn more about tsunami safety and the steps you can take to prepare, visit https://www.readysbc.org/597/Tsunami.
REGISTER TO RECEIVE ReadySBC ALERTS: If you haven’t registered for emergency alerts, register now at ReadySBC.org. Receive local emergency alerts via text, phone call, and email.