User Tools

Site Tools


Tsunami Messaging Project


Participants on this webinar are listed at the bottom of this page.

These are notes following the webinar-enabled discussion held April 3, 2014, about tsunami dangers – what to do when you can't get to high ground

ACCESS – when higher ground is inaccessible

For the following situations:
1. rural, sparse population that is close to the coast
2. no strong multi-story buildings or other options for vertical evacuation
3. high ground is too far away to reach by foot before wave arrival

Access is blocked:

  1. such as high power/high current transmission lines blocks access
  2. small bridge

If you are blocked from reaching your identified high ground - due to downed power lines, damaged roads or bridges, or mud slides, then look for secondary high ground and go there. If no secondary high ground exists or is also blocked, then consider other options. First look for the highest strongest building that you can reach before the wave arrives. If one exists then go up as high in the building as you can go. If no buildings are available, then climb a tree, etc.

Short message: Try to go to alternate high ground, but if you can't, go to an alternate site.

- you have to adapt to the local situation and their real world.

Know where your safest areas (high ground/safe place) are.

Have a backup plan. (leverage notion of vertical evacuation.)


  • Thinking about “high ground” as being accessible by driving a car to get to. This is a problem – stuck in traffic, get trapped and potentially injured or killed. (especially if people have not done a tsunami walk drill.)
  • Localities need to be clearly designated and signed properly so they can see where the assembly points are.
  • People underestimate how large, fast, and deep tsunami waves penetrate.
  • Safe places need to be explicitly identified.


These messages are designed to improve your chances of surviving. (Don't guarantee survival.)

  • If a tsunami is on its way and you are not within walking distance before wave arrival…
  • don't count on the roads – go into a building and up to (which) floor, climb a tree, climb onto something that floats.
  • if your access to high ground has been blocked.
  • If you can't get to high ground (road or path is blocked):


  • Find the tallest, strongest building as far inland as you can get (before the tsunami arrives). Go up as high in that building as you can.

How many floors high? In Japan, the tsunami reached the 5th floor of at least one building.

  • Vertical evacuation is a good option when moving inland to high ground is not available or you don't have enough time.

04/03/2014 webinar participants

Donna Hughes Crescent City CA Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group
Bill Knight Palmer AK National Tsunami Warning Center
Rocky Lopes Silver Spring MD NWS HQ Tsunami Program
Teron Moore Victoria BC Emergency Management BC
Troy Nicolini Eureka CA NWS WFO Eureka
Sue Perry Pasadena CA USGS SAFRR Program
Cindy Pridmore Sacramento CA California Geological Survey
Christa Rabenold Silver Spring MD NWS HQ Tsunami Program
Althea Rizzo Salem OR OEM
Jeri Siegel San Luis Obispo CA CalOES
Wendy Vaughon New York NY Columbia University
Christa VonHillebrandt Mayaguez PR NWS Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program
Brian Yanagi Honolulu HI Int'l Tsunami Info Center
Christina Zarcadoolas New York NY Columbia University
Walt Zaleski Fort Worth TX NWS Southern Region

Return to Tsunami Messaging Project Home Page

messagenotes04032014.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/13 14:05 by christa