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Experts share advice for Tsunami Awareness Week

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Posted at 6:04 AM, Mar 22, 2022

This week is Tsunami Awareness Week, and emergency response crews are helping make sure local residents are prepared in the rare event one strikes the Central Coast.

"Although it may not be a disaster that occurs as often as wildfires or even earthquakes here in California, it's something that could impact our coastal cities," said Alyson Hanner, California Office of Emergency Services Public Information Officer.

Cal OES recommends having a go-bag with anything you might need in case of an evacuation and to make sure you know a safe evacuation route.

Authorities will issue either a watch or a warning if the Central Coast is in danger.

A watch means a tsunami is possible. A warning means an event has already happened that may have generated a tsunami and it may be time to evacuate.

If you happen to be at the beach while a tsunami watch or advisory is issued try to get to higher ground as soon as possible.

"Plan evacuation routes ahead of time. Just start thinking about it, because when the time comes it's probably too late," said Eric Endersby, the City of Morro Bay's Harbor Director.

The Central Coast experienced a very small tsunami just a few months ago in January of 2022 after an underwater volcanic eruption near the island of Tonga, thousands of miles away.

"We had pretty extreme water changes and tidal flow. We probably had the water go up and down about 5 or 6 feet," said Endersby.

An important takeaway from the event is the timing of the largest surge.

"It seemed to arrive on time, but the first surges were not the largest. It seemed to have kind of ramped up throughout the day and then ramped back down," said Endersby.

If there is a tsunami advisory or warning the most destructive waves may not arrive until later in the day or possibly the next day.

"It's better to be prepared for a disaster that never happens than to be caught off guard," said Hanner.