County of Marin - News Releases - Tsunami Awareness Week

For Immediate Release
March 16, 2016

Marin Makes Strides on Tsunami Awareness

Preparedness workshop scheduled for March 29 in Stinson Beach

San Rafael, CA – Five years after the devastating Tohuku Tsunami that struck the east coast of Japan, Marin County is more tsunami-ready because of vigorous education and awareness efforts.

On March 15, the Marin County Board of Supervisors proclaimed the week of March 20-26 as Tsunami Preparedness Week, and the Marin County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) remains resolute in making Marin residents as prepared as they can be for a sudden and potentially deadly rogue waves and tides. OES is coordinating a Tsunami Preparedness Community Workshop on March 29 at the Stinson Beach Community Center.

“Tsunamis are among Earth’s most infrequent hazards, but the threat exists here because we can’t predict where, when, or how destructive the next one will be,” said Ursula Hanks, an OES coordinator. “There is no such thing as tsunami season such as there is with tornados or hurricanes. Just as with earthquake preparedness, we have to be ready all the time. It’s a lifestyle commitment we must make for living in this beautiful place.”

Twelve hours after the earthquake struck near Sendai, Japan, in March 2011, subdued but large tsunami waves arrived on Marin’s Pacific coastline and wrapped themselves around San Francisco Bay as far as San Rafael’s Loch Lomond Marina. Although financial damage was minimal, it was a spectacular reminder about the need for 24-7 disaster preparedness.

Strong earthquakes occurring elsewhere on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” especially Alaska, give Marin little warning of the overwhelming waves that move up to 500 mph. A massive earthquake in the central Aleutian Islands of Alaska could send 30-foot waves to the Marin coast within about five hours. Japan is still reeling from a disaster that left about 22,000 dead, hundreds of thousands of residents homeless, and cost about $300 billion.

“While remaining calm, you must get yourself and your family to higher ground immediately and stay there until informed by official sources that it is safe to go back,” Hanks said. “The tsunami is not the largest wave, and its duration can be many hours. We have worked hard to install warning signage at our coast, promote speedy mass notifications, encourage training, conduct first-responder exercises, and not let up on community outreach. It takes all that to maintain tsunami-ready status.”

OES recommends the following steps:

  • Understand tsunami dangers and your tsunami zone by checking
  • Sign up for emergency alerts and potentially life-saving instructions on
  • Create a plan to survive on your own after a disaster by using information on
  • Participate in the March 29 workshop in Stinson Beach. It is from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the community center, 32 Belvedere Avenue, Stinson Beach. Email for details.


Ursula Hanks
Office of Emergency Services

Emergency Operations Facility
1600 Los Gamos Drive
Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6584
Email: Ursula Hanks
OES website