How to Know When a Tsunami is Coming

Know When a Tsunami is Coming, Pool during earthquake GIF

Although tsunamis move fast, there are warning signs. Pay attention to messages that come from your local agencies and be aware of environmental clues.

Official Tsunami Alerts

As with other natural disasters, local and national agencies issue tsunami watches and warnings.

  • Tsunami Watch: It could happen! Prepare to evacuate, especially if the watch alert follows an earthquake or landslide. You may wish to evacuate early, if you have the means.
  • Tsunami Warning: It’s coming! Move quickly to get away from the coast. Head to a shelter on high ground and enact your emergency preparedness plan. Bring your emergency preparedness kit with you. 

If you’re not with your loved ones when a tsunami watch or warning is broadcast, contact them on the way to your predetermined shelter. Most coastal towns have marked evacuation routes and recommended evacuation locations. Your evacuation location should be far from the coast and 100′ or more above sea level.

If the tsunami warning is issued during an earthquake, first take cover if you’re indoors. Wait until the shaking stops, then evacuate the area. If you’ve been instructed to shelter in place by authorities, follow their directions.

Physical Signs of a Tsunami

Mother Nature doesn’t have access to your smartphone, but she issues her own tsunami alerts as well. You might hear loud roaring from the ocean and feel the ground shake as the wave approaches. If you’re near the coast and see the water recede quickly and much further than usual, this is a major indicator that a tsunami is approaching. Get your butt to higher ground immediately.

But what should you take with you?

how to know when a tsunami is coming

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.