How To: Read Tsunami Warning Maps

These past couple days have been tragic and our hearts go out to all the people in the Tohoku region that were affected by the tsunami. While watching these events unfold on TV, many saw a map like this in the corner of their TV screens:

Image courtesy of the Japan Meterological Agency

Many JETs noticed Ishikawa highlighted in yellow and were asking questions. What does this mean? Do I need to evacuate? Is it safe to be living so close to the beach?

So here’s a breakdown of what these higlighted maps mean:

  • Red (or magenta): Severe tsunami warning. This signals large tsunami are expected. Waves are expected to be more than 3 meters in height.
  • Orange (or red): Tsunami warning for waves of about 2 meters in height.
  • Yellow: Tsunami advisory, signals tsunami waves of about .5 meters in height may occur.

Local TV stations will also broadcast on-screen what time waves are expected to hit your area shores. The Japan Meteorological Agency will have current information on earthquakes and tsunami warnings in English here. If you see a tsunami advisory—even though it’s small —don’t go to the beach. One man in California was swept to sea in the small tsunami that hit California shores yesterday. He was trying to take pictures of the waves.

If a larger tsunami warning is issued for Ishikawa, keep tuned into the local news, but also listen for any emergency broadcasts that may come from your town hall. If you hear an announcement or siren, it may mean you need to get to a shelter or higher ground. Places such as schools, town halls, and other large public buildings are usually designated emergency shelters.

If you have any questions about your specific area, talk to your supervisors, neighbors, or JTEs for more information. They can give you specific information about designated emergency shelters or evacuation routes in your area.

-Melanie

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