Tsunamis are series of traveling ocean waves of extremely long length generated by disturbances associated with earthquakes. Tsunamis typically occur below, or near, the ocean floor. Both types of tsunamis (remote and local) have affected California.
Remote tsunamis have been the most frequent to hit California and are generated by earthquakes off the coasts of Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, and Chile. The most significant remote tsunami to hit southern California was in 1960, when an 8.6 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile generated a tsunami that caused major damage to the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors.
Local tsunamis are generated off the coast of Southern California and have the potential of hitting our Orange County beaches. Since 1800, only four locally generated tsunamis have been observed. Although they are rare, it is better to prepare for such an emergency.
Prepare an evacuation kit and plan in case of a tsunami warning.
Listen to emergency information and alerts through the radio, television, or mobile device.
Evacuate as soon as possible if a tsunami warning is in effect.
Move to a safe as high and as far inland as possible. Listen to local authorities for information about shelters and safe locations.
If you are outside of a tsunami hazard zone and receive a warning, stay where you are unless authorities tell you otherwise.
Watch tsunami videos at USC’s Tsunami Research Center.
Download a tsunami preparedness fact sheet from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.
Read about tsunamis in Southern California at the San Diego State University’s Geological Sciences Department blog.
Get tsunami maps, facts and tips from the State of California website.