Hawaii has been affected by local and distant tsunamis. Destructive tsunamis have affected Hawaii 8 times in the last century and resulted in 222 deaths statewide. These tsunamis have been generated from various places (Aleutian Islands, Chile, Japan, Russian Kamchatka Peninsula and Hawaii County). The volcanoes in Hawaii County can produce a local tsunami with a 20-60 minute wave arrival time for neighboring islands.
Personal Safety
If the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center forecasts that a destructive tsunami (minimum of 3 feet) will affect the Hawaiian Islands, the sirens will sound statewide to give the public as much time as possible to prepare. For a distant tsunami, a minimum of three hours warning time will be issued to the public. The Emergency Alert System will be activated to inform the public of what danger is imminent and name evacuation centers on high ground. Located in the disaster preparedness pages in the beginning of each county telephone book are maps that designate tsunami evacuation areas. Some roads will be closed during the Tsunami Warning time period to eliminate traffic congestion and insure emergency vehicles have access to all areas.
You are in immediate danger when….

You feel the ground shaking violently below your feet

You see the ocean receding for miles

You hear an incredibly loud roar like a freight train coming from the oceans waves

If you find yourself in this situation, seek higher ground or travel inland 1/2 mile immediately. If a tsunami is generated, listen to local authorities for guidance on safe vertical evacuation levels.

    Your Tsunami Preparedness Plan

  • To find out if you live, work or play within a tsunami evacuation zone, enter your address into the Tsunami Evacuation Zone Map Viewer on HI-EMA’s website at www.scd.hawaii.gov
  • If you do work or live in a tsunami evacuation area, take proper measures to protect your property (i.e. elevate the valuable contents in your home) and check if your insurance covers tsunami damages to your home. Flood insurance does not necessarily cover these damages.
  • Have a Family Disaster Plan and know how to safely reconnect with family after the “all clear” is communicated by county civil defense agencies. Pre-designate a meeting place or check-in person out of state and reconnect after the disaster. The telephone lines will most likely be overloaded. Only use the telephone for emergencies.
  • Do not drive on the roads if you are inland of the tsunami evacuation area. People in evacuation areas will be directed to leave and individuals, businesses and schools will activate their disaster plans. It is critical that the roads stay clear for emergency vehicles.
  • Designate an evacuation route that could bring you to a safe area in 15 minutes. In many areas, the quickest route may be by foot. Remember to seek higher ground or travel inland up to a 1/2 mile.
  • Create a disaster supplies kit that can easily be taken with you at a moment’s notice that contains food, water, blankets, medical supplies, toiletries, radio and flash light. Remember to accommodate any members of your family who may have special needs.
  • Stay tuned to NOAA weather radio to monitor the situation.