Tsunami Preparedness

Are YOU In a Tsunami Hazard Zone? 

To find out if you are in a Tsunami Hazard Zone or for tips on how to stay safe, click on the coastline nearest you!

          North Coast - San Simeon and Cambria

          Central Coast - Los Osos, Morro Bay and Cayucos

          South Coast - Port San Luis to the Oceano Dunes

Tsunamis are NOT like normal waves at the beach. When they approach land they are like a surge or fast flood.  Tsunami are triggered by earthquakes or by underwater landslides and can travel for great distances.  If you are by the coast and you feel a large earthquake it is important to take the following steps in case a tsunami occurs. 

First: drop, cover, and hold on;

Second: when the shaking stops, get to high ground; and

Third: stay away from the coast.

If the tsunami was triggered by an earthquake far away, it may take hours for the first waves (or surges) of a tsunami to reach the shoreline, and often times the first waves are not the highest or most powerful.  Whether a Tsunami Watch, Advisory or Warning has been issued, it is imperative that anyone in coastal areas listen to  emergency information and instructions. 

What to keep in mind when it comes to tsunami:

 Know the warning signs:

  • A strong earthquake may be felt
  • A sudden rise or fall of the ocean tide
  • A loud, roaring sound (like an airplane or a train) coming from the ocean

 Take action:

  • Move inland to higher ground.
  • Stay away from the coast until officials advise it is safe to return
  • Follow instructions from local officials

 Spread the word:

  • Once you have taken action tell family, friends, and co-workers to do the same (social media is a great way to spread the word)                       


Tsunami Watch, Advisory and Warnings

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and local officials will categorize tsunami utilizing the following terminology. These categories allow emergency officials to quickly understand the severity of the tsunami threat and guide any actions that need to be taken until more specific data can be gathered.

Tsunami Watch:

  • Tsunami Watch is an early alert issued to areas which may later be impacted by a tsunami.
  • Any tsunami impact is normally at least three (3) hours away for regions within a Tsunami Watch.
  • The Tsunami Watch will either be upgraded to a Warning, Advisory or canceled depending on the severity of the tsunami.
  • People within a Watch area should stay alert for further information regarding the tsunami threat.

Tsunami Advisory:

  • Tsunami Advisory indicates a tsunami which may produce strong currents and is dangerous to those in or very near the water.
  • Large tsunami inundations are not expected in areas under Tsunami Advisory status.
  • Advisories will be canceled, extended, or upgraded to a Tsunami Warning depending on the event severity.
  • Tsunami Advisories are issued when the tsunami forecast is in the range of .3 to 1.0 meter, or an observed tsunami is in the range of .5 to 1.0 meters.

Tsunami Warning:

  • Tsunami Warning indicates that a tsunami may be imminent and that coastal locations in the warned area should prepare for flooding.
  • The initial Tsunami Warning is typically based solely on seismic information.
  • After the tsunami is recorded on sea level gauges, the Warning will be canceled, restricted, expanded, or downgraded to a Tsunami Advisory.
  • Tsunami Warnings indicate that flooding up to the maximum expected limit is possible and residents should follow their local emergency officials' instructions for any actions they should take.
  • Tsunami Warnings are issued when the earthquake information or tsunami forecast indicates that a wave over 1 meter in amplitude is expected, possible, or ongoing.
  • For more information on tsunami or to read more about how tsunami watches, advisories or warnings are issued,

          visit the National Tsunami Warning Center.

Access WebEOC

Contact OES via web form, email, or call us at (805) 781-5011.