Tsunami Awareness & Preparedness in Cascadia Region

CREW is committed to raising awareness of the tsunami risk in the Cascadia region while promoting mitigation and preparedness. Many lessons have been learned from the March 11, 2011 Great East Japanese (Tohoku) earthquake and tsunami – these also apply to the seismically-similar Cascadia Subduction Zone.

The following links provide additional information on ongoing awareness and preparedness activities in the Cascadia region:

Washington State

  • In a Seattle Times, CREW Vice-President John Schelling and CREW Treasurer Tim Walsh express the importance of ongoing awareness activities along with the scientific information needed to better quantify Cascadia’s risk.
  • Washington Emergency Management Division has more information on how to prepare to hazards in Washington state.
  • Project Safe Haven, completed in 2011, developed vertical evacuation options for the counties of Pacific and Grays Harbor.

Oregon

British Columbia

For more information on earthquakes, tsunamis, and how to prepare, please visit our pages on Earthquake Information, Risk Reduction, and read more in our Products and Programs.

If you have any questions, please Contact Us.

New Earthquake Mitigation Video “Preparing Portland Schools” Released

PORTLAND, OREGON —Preparing Portland Schools” is a four-minute documentary film about the earthquake safety retrofit of Alameda Elementary School in Northeast Portland written, directed, and produced by three Grant High School students during summer 2013. With a backdrop of retrofit project construction at Alameda and a soundtrack composed and performed by one of the filmmakers, the film explores the risk posed to Portland schools by a major Cascadia earthquake and the steps that can be taken to make historic buildings safer. Critically, it adds a missing piece: a student view of earthquake safety and school modernization. The film includes short interviews with Carmen Merlo, Director of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and Mike Kubler, President of Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW).  “It’s not that much time.  It’s not that much money. It can be done”, said Mike Kubler.  “We can make the building a safer place.”

The film was made possible with financial support from CREW via a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was created under the aegis of the Hollywood Theatre Studio at Grant High School, a partnership between the public high school and the not-for-profit Hollywood Theatre, which supplied cameras, editing equipment, and a creative advisor for the project. CREW President Mike Kubler is a local emergency manager and a Portland Public School parent. School safety advocate Ted Wolf served as project advisor and coordinator.

The newly released video can be found on YouTube: Preparing Portland Schools  Other free materials to help Cascadia residents, schools, businesses, and emergency managers become better prepared for future earthquakes are accessible online at CREW..

Filmmakers:

  • Alex Pozarycki – Grant High School (GHS) class of ’13 now a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia
  • Noah Puggarana – senior at GHS
  • Harrison Soltvedt- senior at GHS &
  • Emilie Currin, creative advisor; affiliated with Pacific Northwest College of Art

Shakeout – Drop, Cover and Hold On – October 18 @ 10:18 AM

CREW Board members John Schelling and Bill Steele promote ShakeOut in this Seattle Times article and encourage everyone to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:18am on October 18th.

Seattle Times article link: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019441733_shakeout16m.html

Oregon Earthquake Energy Assurance Project Report

Oregon state agencies, Department of Energy, Public Utility Commission, and Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) completed the Oregon Energy Assurance Project, including the DOGAMI earthquake risk study in Oregon’s Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) Hub. This study focused on the risk to Oregon’s energy sector, raised awareness of the risk and encouraged mitigation.  Please find DOGAMI’s report  at co-author Scott Miles’ link at: http://www.wwu.edu/huxley/resilience/Publications/DOGAMI_CEI_Hub_report.pdf.

New Japan Tsunami Evacuation Report

Following the tragic 3.11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, New Zealand’s GNS Science in collaboration with Washington State Emergency Management and other stakeholders set out to further analyze the successes of the evacuation and messaging approaches used in this event. A key element of this research was to investigate both traditional tsunami evacuation strategies used in communities, schools, etc. as well as non-traditional approaches, such as vertical evacuation techniques and draw parallels with the concepts being applied in New Zealand, Washington, and elsewhere in the United States. The report can be found here.

It’s Beach Season in the Northwest: Are You Tsunami Ready?

After months of rain and gray skies, it’s time to pack up swimsuits and sunscreen and head to the Northwest coast. But beach visitors in our region need to prepare for more than sunshine. The Pacific coastline from northern California to British Columbia is at risk from a powerful offshore earthquake and resulting tsunami, events that are likely to cause many injuries, deaths and widespread property damage.

Coastal residents and visitors can reduce their risk from a tsunami simply by knowing when to get out of its path and how to reach safety.

What is the threat?

Tsunamis triggered by nearby earthquakes offshore, as well as distant tsunamis caused by earthquakes across the Pacific Ocean, have struck the Northwest coast. The source of the nearby quakes is the Cascadia subduction zone, which lies offshore from northern California to British Columbia. In this zone, two tectonic plates — the North America plate and the Juan de Fuca plate — come together to form an 800-mile long earthquake fault.

Scientists believe the most recent Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, a magnitude 9 event, occurred in January 1700. The best available evidence indicates that these earthquakes occur, on average, every 500 to 600 years. However, the years between these events have been as few as 100 to 300 years — meaning, all Cascadia residents, especially coastal residents and visitors, should prepare to experience a powerful and potentially damaging subduction zone earthquake in their lifetimes.

After a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, a tsunami could arrive within 15 to 20 minutes, sending a series of massive waves crashing into the shoreline and flooding entire coastal communities.

How can beachgoers prepare?

Before you head to the coast, find out if your lodging and the places you will visit are in a tsunami evacuation zone. (Oregon and Washington residents can search for an address with this tsunami evacuation zone map viewer.) Once there, look for street signs or seek out evacuation maps that show local tsunami hazard zones and routes. It’s also a good idea to prepare personal disaster supply kits to take with you on any trip.

Signs of a tsunami

You may feel that a tsunami is on its way from the ground shaking that precedes it. Other signs include a sudden rise or fall in sea level or a loud roar like a jet aircraft. Once the shaking stops, move to higher ground or farther inland as quickly as possible. Do not wait for an official warning; a tsunami may arrive within minutes. Wait for emergency officials to issue the “All Clear” signal before returning to low-lying areas. Never try to watch a tsunami or surf a tsunami wave. Tsunamis travel faster than a person can run.

Should Northwest residents be worried about visiting the coast?

Be prepared, not worried. By knowing when and how to respond to a tsunami, residents can significantly reduce the risk to their loved ones and themselves.

More tsunami resources

CREW: Tsunami Mitigation and Preparedness in the Cascadia region

NOAA/National Weather Service Tsunami Ready Program

Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse (evacuation maps and other resources)

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

Surviving a Tsunami: Lessons from Chile, Hawaii and Japan (U.S. Geological Survey)

West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

WSSPC Releases Tsunami Report

With support of CREW members, Western States Seismic Policy Council (WSSPC) has just completed and released a report in support of the accomplishments of the state tsunami programs and the important role they play in educating the public, especially for preparedness for a locally generated tsunami.

The report and press release can be found at: www.wsspc.org.