Tsunami Preparedness

Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the oceans, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. A tsunami gains its height as it travels closer to land and the depth of the water decreases. A majority of Goleta is safe from tsunamis as the city is high enough and far enough away from the ocean to not be severely affected. Where Goleta is vulnerable from tsunamis is at our beaches.

With approximately 110 miles of coastline, Santa Barbara County is susceptible to the impacts of tsunamis. The County of Santa Barbara recognized March 27 through March 31 as Tsunami Preparedness Week.

Being prepared before an emergency is critical and tsunamis are no exception. The County recommends community members take the following actions to prepare:

  • Know the tsunami hazard zones for areas you live and/or visit.
  • People living, visiting, or working in a tsunami hazard area must be aware of the warning signs that indicate potential tsunami activity including a strong earthquake, the ocean withdrawing or rising rapidly, or a loud, roaring sound coming from the sea.
  • Identify an evacuation location that is on high ground or inland, away from the water and accessible by foot. Evacuation sites should be accessible by walking and not dependent on a vehicle. Note: Some beach areas have tsunami evacuation route maps onsite.
  • Practice walking your evacuation routes to make evacuation quicker and easier.
  • Register for emergency alerts from local public safety officials: County of SB and City of Goleta

Although it can be tempting to want to observe tsunami activities or be in the water, it is important to stay out of the water and away from the tsunami hazard zone until public safety officials have deemed it safe to return. The first wave may not be the last or the largest and the danger may last for hours or days.

There are three levels of notifications that exist for tsunamis. People living, visiting, or working in a tsunami hazard area must be aware of the warning signs that indicate potential tsunami activity; there may not be time for public safety officials to send a notification before the effects of a tsunami are felt. Nevertheless, beachgoers should familiarize themselves with the following notifications and follow directions from public officials:

  • Tsunami Watch: A tsunami may later impact the area.
  • Tsunami Advisory: A tsunami with the potential to generate strong currents or waves is imminent, expected, or occurring.
  • Tsunami Warning: A tsunami with the potential to generate widespread inundation is imminent, expected, or occurring. Evacuations of identified tsunami inundation areas will be required.

To learn more about tsunami safety and steps you can take to prepare, visit  https://www.readysbc.org/597/Tsunami. You can also view a California tsunami map at https://www.conservation.ca.gov/cgs/tsunami/maps.