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Course Outline

Washington State is on the Pacific “rim of fire,” which is the main generator of seismic events that can create tsunamis.

  • Tsunamis can cause rapid changes in the water, including water levels and unpredictable currents, especially in harbors and entrance channels.
  • It is important for boaters in coastal areas, including the Puget Sound, to know what to do if they are on their boat when a tsunami strikes.
    • Vessel operators should plan evacuation procedures for moving docked or moored vessels and for removing belongings from vessels, including insurance and ownership papers.
    • In the event of a tsunami warning, boaters should consider the following actions.
      • If in deep water (600 feet or greater), stay at sea.
      • If time allows, move trailered vessels to an area outside of the evacuation zone.
      • If a vessel is in shallow water or a harbor and if time and weather conditions allow it, move the vessel to deep water (at least 600 to 1,200 feet deep).
      • Once a vessel is taken out to sea, it should not return until an “All Clear” has been issued by the Civil Defense Agency.
      • VHF-FM Channel 22 should be monitored for up-to-date information and “All Clear” notifications.
      • Vessel operators in the Puget Sound or the Lower Columbia River should anticipate heavy commercial traffic heading seaward.
      • If time does not allow moving a docked or moored vessel to deeper water, the best strategy is to leave the vessel and follow local tsunami evacuation route procedures.
  • Plan Your Trip

    Online weather and river information for Washington boaters is available from the National Weather Service at:

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