NOAA 2001-R509
Contact: Jana Goldman


Significant advances in efforts to protect coastal residents from tsunamis, the large and potentially deadly waves usually generated by seismic events in the ocean, have resulted from a team effort led by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The accomplishments and the next steps will be the subjects of a review of the Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program and an international symposium during the week of August 6 in Seattle, Wash.

"It's time for us to take a look at what we've accomplished since we first developed a coordinated plan to save lives and property five years ago. But more important, we have a chance to use new science and technology to improve the tsunami mitigation plan for the next five," said Eddie N. Bernard, director of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and chair of the tsunami project steering group.

The tsunami program is a federal/state effort to seek ways of warning residents in coastal areas of the hazard, as well as try to mitigate the damage from such events. The program began in 1996. Program accomplishments include:

  • Forming a successful partnership between the five Pacific states (Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska).
  • Establishing consistent tsunami mitigation plans, evacuation route signs and procedures for communities in the five states.
  • Developing tsunami inundation maps that show areas that could be affected by tsunami waves. These maps have led to the creation of mitigation plans and evacuation routes for communities.
  • Upgrading NOAA's tsunami warning system to significantly reduce warning times and increase the ability to detect tsunamis started by earthquakes and accurately track tsunamis across the ocean.

NOAA's ability to upgrade its warning and tracking systems and the states' ability to develop mitigation plans and evacuation procedures has led to a process where individual towns and cities can take it one step further to become certified and recognized as a community that is TsunamiReady," Bernard said.

On June 30, Ocean Shores, Wash., was recognized as the first community to earn TsunamiReady designation.

The review panel will take a look at the accomplishments of the federal and state partnership and discuss the next steps in tsunami warning and awareness activities and regional coordination.

The symposium will feature an international array of scientists and engineers who specialize in tsunami research and mitigation. Presentations will focus on tsunami-related technical advances and the state of the science. Topics include tsunami generation, prediction and simulations, disasters and mitigation, instrumentation and observations, warning and preparedness, databases, and propagation. Among the presentations will be an update from a tsunami response team sent to Peru to investigate the near-shore tsunamis generated by the June 28 earthquake.

The week's events include the program review on August 7 and the
international symposium August 8-9 at the University of Washington in Seattle. The week will conclude with a field trip on August 10 to the site of the 1700 Cascadia earthquake and tsunami followed by a public forum in Ocean Shores, Wash., with area officials and tsunami experts.

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit

Agendas for the Review and the Symposium can be found at:

For information about the Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, visit:

To learn more about the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, visit: