The Regional District of Nanaimo is identified as low risk for tsunami with estimated wave height of less than 2m above normal sea levels. This may cause some damage to low lying areas but is much different than the West Coast of Vancouver Island where communities are at high risk with catastrophic damage potential from waves of up to 15m. The size of the RDN coastline and number of tsunami sirens needed would be a very expensive undertaking for an advanced warning system for this low risk, low impact situation. The RDN uses more practical and cost effective notification processes such as the RDN Emergency Notification System combined with door to door notification to address this.

Emergency Management BC has a Tsunami Warning and Alerting Plan in place and will convey warnings to our coastal communities as quickly as possible. BC Tsunami Preparedness and Response details can be found here

For more information on Emergency Management Alerts, please Click Here or follow Emergency Info BC on Twitter


The catastrophic events of the 2004 Southeast Asia earthquake and tsunami shocked the world with its destructive power. This natural disaster has governments of all levels considering more seriously the devastating effects of natural geologic hazards, as many coastal communities are not prepared for such events. The Province has designated funds for affected local authorities along the coast (Georgia Basin and open ocean) to focus on alerting and awareness. Recent events have changed the recommendation for 72 hours worth of supplies to ONE WEEK. More information on how to prepare can be found here


Tsunami INFORMATION - issued to inform emergency management officials and the public that an earthquake has occurred, or that a tsunami warning, watch or advisory has been issued for another section of the ocean. Minor waves at most. No action suggested. 

Tsunami WATCH - issued when a serious earthquake has occurred which may have generated a tsunami, and the possible tsunami travel time from the epicenter to any part of the B.C. coast is more than three hours. Danger level is not known yet. Stay alert for more information. 

Tsunami ADVISORY -  issued due to the threat of a potential tsunami which may produce strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near the water. Strong currents likely. Stay away from the shore. 

Tsunami WARNING - issued when evidence is received that a tsunami exists, or when a serious earthquake has occurred that may have caused a tsunami, and the tsunami travel time from the epicenter to any portion of the B.C. coast is three hours or less. Inundating wave is possible, full evacuation suggested. 

Tsunami CANCELLATION - issued after an evaluation of water-level data confirms that a destructive tsunami will not impact an area under a warning, advisory, or watch or that a tsunami has diminished to a level where additional damage is not expected.

(Do not mistake internet INFORMATION BULLETINS with the above definitions)

Key Information from Tsunami Warning Centers and the Province:

  • Tsunamis are a series of waves generated by underwater earthquakes or landslides.
  • If you are near water (the ocean or a watercourse that is proximal) and feel the earth shake, or see a sudden drop in the ocean level, seek high ground as quickly as possible
  • It is optimal to get 10 meters above sea level
  • Remain at a safe elevation until advised otherwise by emergency officials

Check out Emergency Management BC website for more information.