English: Tsunami Evacuation Route signage sout...


From the area of the disturbance, the waves will travel outward in all directions, much like the ripples caused by throwing a rock into a pond. The time between wave crests may be from 5 to 90 minutes, and the wave speed in the open ocean will average 450 miles per hour. The areas at greatest risk for damage are less than 50 feet above sea level and within one mile of the shoreline. There may or may not be time for a warning.


The Tsunami Warning Centers in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Palmer, Alaska, monitor disturbances that trigger tsunamis. When a tsunami is recorded, it is tracked and a tsunami warning is issued to the threatened area.


Tsunami Warning Centers in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Palmer, Alaska, officials may notify residents of a tsunami by several methods. The methods include NOAA radio warning, emergency alerts to the State of Washington, and contact with local emergency management who then use the Alert Sense  telephonic warning system that will dial county residents residing in Tsunami prone areas through the public landline telephone network. Some community fire halls have warning sirens, some do not. Those that have them are Sandy Point, and Lummi Island. They will activate sirens at their locations if time allows. Click on this  for Tsunami warning information.

If time allows local radio stations will run warnings and local first responders as well as search and rescue volunteers will attempt to contact neighborhoods at risk.


Do live in the Bellingham, Blaine, Birch Bay, Lummi Nation, Lummi Island, Point Roberts, or Sandy Point area ? Find out what areas are dangerous, and which way you should go during a tsunami. See the maps below; click on the link below:




  • Have a NOAA radio.
  • Find out if your home is in a danger area. Know the height of your street above sea level and the distance of your street from the coast. Evacuation orders may be based on these numbers.
  • Consider an earthquake or a sizable ground rumbling a warning signal. A noticeable, rapid rise or fall in coastal waters is also a sign that a tsunami is approaching. Make sure all family members know how to respond to a tsunami.
  • Make evacuation plans. Pick multiple inland locations that are elevated. After an earthquake, roads in and out of the vicinity may be blocked, so pick more than one evacuation route. Practice both a driving and a walking evacuation route; know how long it takes to do both.
  • Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  • Have disaster supplies on hand.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from one another during a tsunami (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, often it’s easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.


If you feel an earthquake: Drop, Cover, and Hold. Drop to the ground to avoid flying objects. Cover – find something sturdy to get beneath. Hold on and stay down until the shaking stops.

  • Stay off the phone – Stay off both land lines and cell phones. Whatcom County Emergency Management Tele-Phonic Warning system can’t get through, and emergency responders, Fire, Police, and Ambulances need the phone system.
  • DO NOT call 9-1-1 for information.
  • Listen to your NOAA radio and local radio station to get the latest emergency information, and be ready to evacuate if asked to do so.
  • If you hear an official tsunami evacuation siren, hear an alert on your NOAA radio, receive a telephonic warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once. Climb to higher ground. A tsunami warning is issued when authorities are certain that a tsunami threat exists.
  • If possible, walk to nearest high ground – at least 50’ above sea level.
  • If you must drive, drive carefully; accidents slow evacuation.
  • Stay away from the beach. DO NOT go down to the beach to watch a tsunami. If you can see the wave, you are too close to escape it.
  • A tsunami is a series of waves. Do not assume that one wave means that the danger over. The next wave may be larger than the first one. Stay out of the area.
  • Be prepared to provide for yourself and family for 3 – 5 days. This is the approximate time period for State and Federal Disaster Teams to respond.
  • Stay tuned to a radio for the latest emergency information.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so. Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Enter your home with caution. Check for electrical shorts and live wires. Do not use appliances or lights until an electrician has checked the electrical system.
  • Open windows and doors to help dry the building.
  • Shovel mud while it is still moist to give walls and floors an opportunity to dry.


Check food supplies and test drinking water. Fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters may be contaminated and should be thrown out. Have tap water tested by the local health department. Check in at your local assembly area if you live in an area flooded by a tsunami . This will assist local first responders with accountability. Local radio stations and this website will have updates. Likewise email or call family/ friends when possible so they know that you are alright. The assembly area will all so be used for posting information in regards to when families can gain access back to their homes, and what services are being provided to those impacted by the tsunami.