Maps show low chance of reaching high ground along coast in event of tsunami | KNKX

Maps show low chance of reaching high ground along coast in event of tsunami

Oct 11, 2019

Washington has released tsunami safety maps for Port Townsend, Ilwaco, Long Beach, Seaview and Westport. The maps indicate how much time you have to get to safety before a tsunami hits following a magnitude 9 earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone. Some of the maps indicate there is almost no chance of reaching safety in the necessary time.

For example, in Westport you would have only 15 minutes to get out. All of the walking routes would take longer than that. And, officials say, with roads and bridges out after a quake walking may be your only option.


Corinna Forsen, Department of Natural Resources chief hazards geologist, says the maps serve more than one purpose.


"The points of these maps are to provide routes to safety, but also to hopefully instigate communities and the state to recognize that this really is a life safety issue and that we have to think about other solutions," Forsen said.


Enclosed vertical evacuation towers are the best solution, Forsen said. She says with these maps in hand communities can seek funding from FEMA and the state to build additional evacuation towers. To date, only one has been built along the on Washington coast.


For communities that don’t sit along the coastline, including Port Townsend, the odds look much better for walking to higher ground before a wave hits. The map shows it would take an hour and a half for the tsunami wave to hit Port Townsend, and most walking routes take between 15 minutes and an hour.


Last year, the Department of Natural Resources released walking tsunami safety maps for Port Angeles, Bellingham, Anacortes, Aberdeen, Hoquim and Cosmpolis.