Fast walking can help you survive a tsunami; DNR has maps to show you where to walk

Tsunami inundation areas of Washington State. Source: DNR
Tsunami inundation areas of Washington State. Source: DNR

As reported by the Seattle Times Tuesday, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed the risk people living on the Northwest coast face from tsunamis and found some 80 percent of us could escape the waves; more if we walk faster.

If and when the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 600-mile-long fault that runs from northern California to Vancouver Island, lets loose another megathrust earthquake, a tsunami surge is expected to slam the coast with 15 to 30 minutes.

The study, led by geographer Nathan Wood of the U.S. Geological Survey, found Aberdeen and Hoquiam had the highest concentration of people at risk from a Cascadia tsunami, with 20,000 people living in the area.

Good news, though, as the study also found 90 percent of those people would have enough time to find higher ground walking at an average rate. Sped up, even more would find refuge on the area’s high ground.

DNR has mapped the way

DNR’s Geology and Earth Resources Division, the state’s official geologic survey, is helping Washington communities identify how they are vulnerable to tsunamis to create innovative strategies for dealing with that threat.

We’ve mapped model tsunamis to show where waves would likely strike after a Cascadia quake, identified evacuation routes, and helped communities without the high ground that could provide refuge to Aberdeen residents, create higher ground of their own.

Find your best routes

Want to find the best evacuation routes for your community? Our Geologic Information Portal has a tsunami layer that shows tsunami hazard zones, evacuation routes, and assembly areas. Use the address locator tool to find evacuation routes and assembly areas near your home, school or workplace.

Using our interactive maps, you can create, save, and print custom maps, find more information about map features, and download map data for use in a geographic information system (GIS). In addition to a variety of geoscience layers that can be turned on and off, each interactive map has many base layers to choose from, so you can customize your map in any number of ways.

Here’s a 2-page fact sheet to help you get the most out of the Washington State Geologic Information Portal.

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