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Do You Know Your Zone?

All U.S. ocean coasts can be impacted by tsunamis. Some areas have more risk than others. Over the past 150 years, destructive and deadly tsunamis have struck Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Are you in the Zone?

A key step in being prepared for tsunamis is to find out if your home, school, workplace or other frequently visited places are in a tsunami hazard or evacuation zone and if your community has had tsunamis in the past. Your local emergency management office, your state's geologic or tsunami hazard website and your local National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office are good resources for information about your risk.

Also, find out if your community is TsunamiReady. Communities recognized by the National Weather Service as TsunamiReady are better prepared for tsunamis.

Understand the Warnings

There are two ways that you may be warned that a tsunami is coming: an official tsunami warning and a natural tsunami warning. Both are equally important. You may not get both. Be prepared to respond immediately to whatever you hear or see first.

  • An official tsunami warning will be broadcast through local radio and television, wireless emergency alerts, NOAA Weather Radio and NOAA websites (like It may also come through outdoor sirens, local officials, text message alerts and telephone notifications.
  • There may not always be time to wait for an official tsunami warning. A natural tsunami warning may your first, best or only warning that a tsunami is on its way. Natural tsunami warnings include strong or long earthquakes, a loud roar (like a train or an airplane) from the ocean, and unusual ocean behavior. The ocean could look like a fast-rising flood or a wall of water. Or, it could drain away suddenly, showing the ocean floor, reefs and fish like a very low tide. If you experience any of these warnings, even just one, a tsunami could be coming.
  • Learn about the different Tsunami Alerts from the National Weather Service.

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