For this year's Tsunami Preparedness Week, state officials are planning for the worst.
A recent study looked at how a 9.1 quake off the coast of Alaska could send high waters to California, damaging harbors, including ones in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
To prepare for such a disaster, the California Geological Survey is working with those harbors as well as ones in San Diego,Ventura, Santa Cruz and Crescent City to map tsunami flood zones.
The agency, along with the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and USC, already has some maps of coastal areas that could be affected by a major tsunami. To see what local areas are at risk, click the regions below. The tsunami inundation areas are highlighted in red.
- Triunfo Pass
- Point Dume
- Topanga (north Santa Monica)
- Central Santa Monica (Beverly Hills Quadrangle)
- Venice (south Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach)
- Redondo Beach North (Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance)
- Redondo Beach South (Rancho Palos Verdes)
- Torrance / San Pedro (Los Angeles Harbor, San Pedro)
- Long Beach
- Los Alamitos / Seal Beach (southeast Long Beach)
For a searchable state-wide map, click here.
Sheltered, but not immune
Geologist Rick Wilson with the California Geological Survey says Southern California seems to be somewhat protected from bearing the brunt of a tsunami.
He notes that in the past, tsunamis south of Point Conception were less intense and caused less damage.
“We’re not sure if it’s because of the islands or because of just the shape of the coast,” he said.
Still, he points out that a mega-quake in Alaska could send a surge of water up to 15 feet above normal levels into L.A.'s heavily populated coastal areas.
Such a tsunami could flood homes and destroy many small boats in nearby harbors, creating dangerous debris.
Wilson says that debris "could hit and make contact with other vessels, and that is what we are really concerned about."
To mitigate this kind of disaster, CGS and CalOES plan to analyze risks and work with the ports to put worst-case plans in place.
Wilson says people living in coastal areas should know the risks and have a route planned for where to go if a tsunami warning is issued.
He also recommends families set up a central meeting place ahead of time in case they are separated.
For more information on preparing for tsunamis, check out TsunamiZone.org
This post has been updated.