(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Be prepared: Know what to do in the event of a Greater Victoria tsunami warning

Localized alert systems can provide potentially life-saving information

Are you prepared for another tsunami warning?

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake near Sand Point Alaska at approximately 2 p.m. on Monday (Oct. 19) triggered a tsunami warning for that area and put B.C.’s coast on alert.

Nearly two hours later Emergency Management B.C. confirmed the all-clear, but many Greater Victoria residents were left wondering and searching for more information.

READ MORE: No tsunami threat in B.C. after 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits Alaska

In January 2018, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Alaska trigger a tsunami warning for Greater Victoria at approximately 2 a.m. While the warning was eventually called off, it gave local emergency personnel a chance to practice their emergency response plans with residents evacuated in some low lying areas such as the Esquimalt Lagoon.

During the 2018 warning, 276 911 calls were made locally “and that was in the middle of the night,” said Sarah Hunn, Victoria’s emergency management community liaison. “People were calling 911 to ask about the tsunami … it’s not a means to get information,” she emphasized. “We see in other disasters the 911 system get overloaded and crash.”

Many residents also jumped into their vehicles and fled to higher ground, whether that was the top of a local mountain or the Malahat.

“People weren’t identifying what high ground was,” explained Geoff Amy, Colwood’s emergency program coordinator. “You don’t need to go very far up Lagoon Road [in Colwood].”

READ MORE: Tsunami risk from Sooke to Sidney

In the event of a magnitude 9 earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the CRD predicts a tsunami would reach Port Renfrew in approximately 35 minutes with wave heights of up to 11.5 feet (3.5 metres), followed by Sooke Harbour within 60 minutes with waves of over eight feet (2.5 metres) and the Esquimalt and Victoria harbours in 76 minutes with respective wave heights of nearly nine feet (2.7 metres) and eight feet (2.5 metres). It would then reach Cadboro Bay within 90 minutes and Sidney within 110 minutes, with both expected to see waves up to 6.6 feet (two metres).

The CRD considers four metres – 13 feet above sea level – to be a safe distance.

After the 2018 warning, the City of Victoria’s alert system went from approximately 6,000 subscribers to 60,000 within a week.

Different areas also offer alert systems for residents to subscribe to. For example, Colwood, Langford, View Royal and Highlands have partnered on a system called Westshore Alert. The CRD and Township of Esquimalt also offer alert systems for residents.

These localized alert systems are designed to deliver critical and potentially life-saving alerts for events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, evacuation notice or other safety threats. Participation is voluntary and all information is confidential. To learn more about these systems, check out pages 27 and 28 of the Black Press Media Be Ready guide.

Five tsunami notification zones divide B.C.’s coastal communities. When tsunami warnings, watches or advisories are issued, they may make reference to these notification zones, so it is important to know if your home or office falls within one.

Three of the five apply to areas within the Capital Region. They include Zone C – the outer west coast of Vancouver Island, including Port Renfrew (each zone includes all islands and inlets within it); Zone D – the Juan de Fuca Strait from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula; and Zone E – the Strait of Georgia including the Gulf Islands.

READ MORE: New videos highlight southern Vancouver Island’s tsunami risk

This information was pulled from part three of a special eight-part series by Black Press Media on emergency preparedness in Greater Victoria. You can find the full article here and the entire series here. You can also find Black Press Media’s Be Ready emergency preparedness guide online here.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Tsunamitsunami alert

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Fire Department on the scene after a car crashed into the Walmart in Uptown. (Photo courtesy Dan Wood)
PHOTOS: Saanich firefighters free trapped workers at Uptown Walmart

Incident reported as explosion after driver rammed through wall

Tiny packets of carrots ready to be distributed in Victoria. (Submitted/Victoria Seed Share)
Free Victoria seed sharing collective bags work experience funding

Fully volunteer run Victoria Seed Share will get a boost from provincial grant

Beach fires are not permitted in Saanich but portable, gas-powered fire pits are welcome everywhere – including at municipal parks and beaches. (Pixabay)
Beach fires not cool in Saanich but gas-powered fire pits permitted

Respect others, bylaws while still enjoying an outdoor fire, firefighter says

Saanich police hope to identify a suspect caught on camera entering a building in the 3300-block of Whittier Avenue in Saanich on March 12 and leaving with a stolen package. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers photo)
Suspect caught on camera pinching parcel from Saanich building

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers share images to help identify suspect

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks players ‘mostly on the other side’ of COVID outbreak: general manager

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized

Police are investigating after a man was shot Thursday, April 8 while sitting in a car in Vancouver. (Black Press files)
Man shot in Vancouver while sitting in a parked car: police

The victim is currently in critical condition. Police say no arrests have been made.

Teachers from SD42 and other districts in the Lower Mainland flocked to Surrey on Tuesday in the hopes of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. (Sheelagh Brothers/Twitter)
Don’t line up for vaccines unless asked to come, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

Social media post shows teachers lining up outside of Surrey clinic for leftover doses

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Most Read