Coast residents and visitors need to be tsunami savvy

FLORENCE, Ore. - Tsunami waves generated by an earthquake are a threat of earthquakes both near and far.

The April 1 quake in Chile generated a tsunami there.

The March 2011 earthquake in Japan and the March 1964 earthquake in Alaska both generated tsunami waves that hit the Oregon Coast.

"A regular wave on the ocean travels about 25 to 30 mph," said Kyle Betts, chief boatswain mate with the U.S. Coast Guard. "When one's been generated by an event causing a tsunami, these waves are traveling in a neighborhood of 300 to 600 mph."

Betts said that in the event of an earthquake in the Pacific rim, local agencies will check the national data buoy center to examine marine conditions to determine if they should start preparation.

If a warning is issued, the first step for the Coast Guard is getting resources off shore.

"Whatever gear we have, get it to higher ground so that when it's clear sounding and we have to respond we would have all our stuff intact," Betts said.

"The city government sets up a command post center where they're given real time information - updates, alerts, places to go."

Coastal residents and visitors can check maps developed by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries that detail areas prone to inundation by a tsunami, as well as evacuation routes.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off