Tsunamis in the United States

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What Causes a Tsunami, and How You Can Stay Safe

Tsunamis, also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”), are a series of enormous waves created by an underwater disturbance such as an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, or meteorite. A tsunami can move hundreds of miles per hour in the open ocean and smash into land with waves as high as 100 feet or more.

From the area where the tsunami originates, waves travel outward in all directions. Once the wave approaches the shore, it builds in height. The topography of the coastline and the ocean floor will influence the size of the wave. There may be more than one wave and the succeeding one may be larger than the one before. That is why a small tsunami at one beach can be a giant wave a few miles away.

Earthquake-induced movement of the ocean floor most often generates tsunamis. If a major earthquake or landslide occurs close to shore, the first wave in a series could reach the beach in a few minutes, even before a warning is issued. Areas are at greater risk if they are less than 25 feet above sea level and within a mile of the shoreline. Drowning is the most common cause of death associated with a tsunami. Tsunami waves and the receding water are very destructive to structures in the run-up zone. Other hazards include flooding, contamination of drinking water, and fires from gas lines or ruptured tanks.

 


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Is the United States at Risk for Tsunamis?

Yes.

All tsunamis are potentially dangerous, even though they may not damage every coastline they strike. A tsunami can strike anywhere along most of the U.S. coastline. The most destructive tsunamis have occurred along the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. Although tsunamis aren’t that frequent along the west coast of the United States, it is possible and necessary to prepare for potential tsunami hazards to minimize loss of life and property.

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Tsunami Safety Tips

In the event of any natural disaster, you need a plan of action. Even though tsunamis aren’t that frequent on the coasts of the United States, knowing the safety measures to take when it does happen could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Also, understanding the different alerts and what they mean for you and your family is important.

Learning all you can about any natural disaster in this day and age is so important. Tsunamis have been around since the dawn of time, but with time comes new technology and different methods and tools you can utilize to keep you and your family safe. Always be aware and always stay prepared!

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“Having the knowledge and skill before you actually need it is how one survives.” ~ Stacy Bravo

** Some information in this article has been courtesy of the Tsunami Information Center and water.usgs.gov.**

 

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Tsunamis in the United States

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