Media Release - Tsunami Warning FAQs
The District of Oak Bay takes emergency preparedness seriously and works with other agencies at local and provincial levels to ensure responsive and appropriate action is taken during a potential or actual emergency event. Oak Bay offers free sessions to the public on how to prepare themselves and their families for all types of emergencies.
WHY WAS NO TSUNAMI ALERT SOUNDED IN OAK BAY January 22, 2018?
The decision not to sound the alert was based on the information that Oak Bay Emergency Officials were receiving and gathering from the incident to make the decision to evacuate residents.
Oak Bay Officials were alerted to the earthquake and immediately went to work to identify the hazard level initiated from the US Geological Survey web site at Palmer Alaska where the tsunami information is generated including the advisory for Juan de Fuca straight Zone D and Clallam County Port Angeles.
We immediately looked at the tide for the area for and the estimated size of the predicted tsunami and determined the water to be at a maximum of 8 feet of normal tide height. The combination of tide information, expected wave size and inundation times put the tsunami below all of our sea walls and low lying areas.
We also researched the areas of impact along the coast over the first two hours through the ocean buoys and reporting lighthouses in Alaska and the north B.C. coast and they were reporting no significant wave action. At this point Emergency Officials in Oak Bay decided to wait for information from the North Island and Mid Island to determine a need to evacuate. Hearing no wave report and following the reports from the Pacific Tsunami Centre for Juan de Fuca Strait we chose not to initiate evacuation of low lying areas.
At all times police and fire were staged in the low lying areas to initiate evacuation if we had determined the need. All of this was taking place within the first three hours of the incident. We allow for two hours for evacuation from these areas. We were afforded time during this event because of the location of the event. Had the event occurred further south on the coast or directly off of our coast we would have immediately evacuated because there is no time for the decision making process.
WHAT ALERT SYSTEM IS IN PLACE FOR OAK BAY?
Notification to evacuate is door to door by police and fire as well as using loud hailers and sirens. We also utilize social media (@OakBayFireDept on Twitter), the oakbay.ca website, traditional media and government authorities (Emergency Management B.C., The National Tsunami Warning Centre).
The District of Oak Bay has been examining the use of an automated electronic notification similar to the one implemented by the City of Victoria in 2017. While this is a potential tool to use during an emergency event, having an alerting system does not reduce or change the requirement for local governments to ensure all their residents who require notification are notified. Oak Bay is actively engaged as a local government authority in seeking out technology based solutions that are both reliable and functional as a way to add to existing notification tools and protocols.
HOW WILL I BE NOTIFIED IF I AM AT RISK OF A TSUNAMI?
The first notification that a tsunami may occur will be an earthquake where you feel strong shaking. If you feel a strong earthquake or observe the signs of a tsunami, and you are within the Oak Bay tsunami risk area, you should take protective measures. In the event of a Tsunami Warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and the Provincial Emergency Notification System, the District of Oak Bay will prioritize sharing accurate and public information. This will be done using traditional media, social media (@OakBayFireDept on Twitter) and the website, oakbay.ca
WHY WAS THE RECEPTION CENTRE OPENED?
Oak Bay Emergency Officials opened the Oak Bay Recreation Centre to provide a centre for emergency officials to provide information regarding the alert and to provide information for residents who self-evacuated when they heard of a possible tsunami.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
Oak Bay Emergency Officials are meeting with other regional partners in the coming weeks to discuss local alerting as currently we all have different systems in place.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS?
The Oak Bay Emergency Program offers regular free preparedness presentations as well as resources and information on personal and family preparedness.
The next Emergency Preparedness Information Session is being held:
This session will provide you with information on how you can be prepared for any emergency. Learn how to develop your personal preparedness plan, put together an evacuation grab and go kit, and a kit to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 7 days after a major emergency. To register contact the Oak Bay Fire Department, 250-592-9121 or email email@example.com
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AT 250-592-9121