Tsunami Readiness

What is a Tsunami?

A tsunami isn’t a wind driven wave. It’s better understood as a new and suddenly higher sea level. It also has greater force than a breaking wave or swell. Earthquake-induced movement of the ocean floor most often causes tsunamis, although rapid displacement of water, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and meteorite impacts can also cause them.

The City of Victoria is not at high risk of a damaging tsunami as other areas of Vancouver Island are. 

Tsunami Modelling

Tsunami modelling of our region after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake has shown us that the maximum water level will be 3.5 metres with a maximum water flow speed of 1 metre per second. In comparison, the 2011 Tohoku tsunami in Japan had a maximum water level of 40 metres with a maximum water flow speed of 12 metres per second.

 View local tsunami hazard mapping on VicMap and click on I want to… turn map data on/off and then select the Emergency Services layer.

What to Know and Do

Felt Earthquake
When an earthquake lasts for 60 seconds or more, or is so strong that it is difficult for you to stand -- Drop, Cover and Hold On until the shaking stops, count to 60 and then move away from beaches and low-lying areas to higher ground immediately. Return only after local emergency officials advise that it is safe to do so. Monitor local media for updates.

If you are near the beach or low lying areas DO NOT wait for officials to tell you to evacuate. The strong earthquake lasting more than 60 seconds is your signal to move to higher ground immediately. (Graphic courtesy of ShakeOutBC.)

Distant Earthquake
Tsunamis originating some distance away in the Pacific Ocean may not be preceded by a "felt earthquake" in Victoria. When notification of a "distant tsunami" is issued, local emergency officials have several hours to notify citizens located close to beaches and low-lying areas to move to higher ground. In Victoria, tsunami waves caused by distant earthquakes may impact the same beaches, shorelines and coastal properties that are regularly affected by serious winter storms.

Other Signs of a Tsunami
Other signs of a tsunami may include the ocean receding, a sudden rise or fall in sea level, or a roaring sound coming from the ocean. Evacuate to higher ground immediately if you experience any of these signs.

Tsunami Notifications

Tsunami notifications that could be issued in Victoria include:

Tsunami Warning:
There is an imminent threat of a tsunami or confirmation that a tsunami wave has been generated for Victoria. This is the highest and most serious level of tsunami notification.
What to do? Those residing in low-lying coastal areas are to move to higher ground immediately and take their emergency kit with them.

Tsunami Advisory:
There is an expectation of strong currents and/or low amplitude wave activity in Victoria.
What to do? Stay off local beaches, marinas and harbours.

Tsunami Watch:
An early alert that is based on the analysis of an event. It may be cancelled or upgraded to a warning or an advisory. 
What to do? Those residing in low-lying coastal areas should be prepared to move to higher ground in the event the tsunami watch is upgraded to an advisory or warning.

Be Tsunami Smart

Emergency Management BC has some helpful tips on how to "Be Tsunami Smart". 

For the latest information on an earthquake or tsunami in BC, follow Emergency Management BC on Twitter @EmergencyInfoBC for emergency alerts and updates.

In the event of a tsunami notification, information will be posted on the City of Victoria's homepage, on Facebook, and on Twitter at @CityofVictoria.

Sign up for Vic-Alert, the City of Victoria's new emergency notification service. Receive alerts by text and/or voice recorded call in the event of a major emergency.

The public is advised to monitor local media outlets for emergency updates. 


 Everyday readiness for every person, every business, every organization.