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$725k tsunami grant will lead to more sirens, better signs and animations


A new tsunami siren was installed last week at Birch Bay in Whatcom County. Two more sirens will be installed on the coast next year.

$725k tsunami grant will lead to more sirens, better signs and animations

CAMP MURRAY, WA – A new $725,822 federal grant will bolster tsunami preparedness along the Washington coast with two new tsunami sirens, evacuation route signs, and improved modeling and animations to give the public a better idea of where a tsunami could hit in their communities.

The funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS) Tsunami Activities Grant and funds multiple tsunami preparedness projects for the Washington Emergency Management Division and the state Department of Natural Resources aimed at increasing the resilience of coastal communities.

“This funding will increase the number of sirens between the outer coast and the northern Puget Sound up to 74,” said Maximilian Dixon, the earthquake program manager for Washington Emergency Management Division. “We’re grateful for the federal funding and the partnerships with counties and tribes that continue to help support our tsunami alerting capabilities.”

The latest siren – number 72 – was installed at Birch Bay in Whatcom County last week. The locations for the additional two sirens are still being determined.

The funding will also provide modeling to create pedestrian evacuation maps in the northern Puget Sound region incorporating geological data such as liquefaction and landslides and evaluating the ability of at-risk populations to evacuate on foot based on wave arrival time to the impacted community.

“We’re also using the funds to develop comprehensive and engaging tsunami animations so that the public has a clear understanding of the impacts a series of tsunami waves will have on their communities,” said Keily Yemm, the tsunami program coordinator for the Washington Emergency Management Division. “We’re working with our partners to help ensure the animations will be effective and accessible.”

Providing consistent and easy-to-access animations allows emergency managers and public officials to visualize hazard information and helps them better simulate and train for tsunami response. The Washington DNR will use the updated tsunami models to develop the new animations.

Other projects being funded include:

  • Social scientists will work with emergency managers to compare and improve tsunami; evacuation outreach materials across Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington;
  • New modeling will be done on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the outer coast with the exact areas still to be determined;
  • New tsunami evacuation signs in both English and Spanish will be added to communities that request them; and
  • A third “Tsunami Road Show” outreach event will occur in communities to be determined on the outer coast in the spring of 2019.

On Oct. 18, at 10:18 a.m., all tsunami sirens will go off with a wailing sound, as part of the Great Washington ShakeOut. This is just a test, but typically, the sirens are tested using the Westminster Chime on the first Monday of every month.  This event is a great opportunity to learn and practice the tsunami evacuation drills in your community.

You can be part of ShakeOut, too. Practice earthquake and tsunami safety with the rest of the state and world.

Register for the drill and learn more survival tips at

Learn more about tsunamis at