Tsunami warning sirens wailed up and down the Washington coast Thursday. Students, businesses and medical workers drilled for an earthquake and tsunami as part of an annual event called "The Great Shakeout."

More than 1.5 million Northwesterners signed up to take part in this year's "Great ShakeOut" on Thursday morning. While "drop, cover and hold" is part of the annual earthquake safety drill everywhere, some coastal schools and offices followed up with tsunami evacuation practice.

The state of Oregon has updated its master plan for what to do in case of a major earthquake and tsunami.


The tsunami that struck Japan four years ago sent about five million tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean. On Friday, workers started unloading one million pounds of that debris that arrived by barge in south Seattle.

Oregon lawmakers are turning their attention to earthquake and tsunami preparedness.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Up and down the West Coast there are beach towns where it would be challenging to escape a tsunami. That's because high ground is out of reach assuming the roads are buckled or jammed after a great earthquake. Now one low-lying Washington coastal town in that predicament is doing something about it.

Oregon State University

Winter storms off the Oregon and Washington coastlines are expected to bring a new wave of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Scientists say objects are already washing ashore – with potentially invasive organisms riding along.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

People along the Oregon Coast ran for their lives Sunday to escape an imaginary tsunami. Local, state and federal emergency management agencies hatched the idea for a 5K fun run and walk along an actual tsunami evacuation route in Cannon Beach. The event was an example of trying to inject some levity in the serious business of disaster readiness.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Japan’s crippled nuclear plant is bleeding hazardous radioactive water at a mind-staggering rate. Officials at Fukushima Daiich are filling 27-feet-tall tanks nearly every other day. Now, in southeast Washington, a company called Kurion is developing and building a mobile filter system to help deal with that troublesome radioactive wastewater.

The filtering system looks like five large shipping containers. Except, they’re awfully shiny and have a lot of high-tech whiz-bang pipes, electronics and tanks inside. Workers here are still welding, and testing the systems.

Washington Marine Debris Task Force

The wave of derelict boats drifting ashore more than three years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan continues. The latest arrival is a fiberglass skiff coated with sea life found today at Horsfall Beach near Coos Bay.

Washington Department of Ecology

A new wave of suspected debris from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is washing up on Northwest shores. The latest noteworthy object to arrive, a large skiff coated with sea life, was found Thursday near Moclips, Wash.

Washington State Parks

State park rangers on Washington's Long Beach peninsula are investigating a new possible case of Japanese tsunami debris. This happened after a beachcomber found a 20-foot skiff encrusted with seaweed and gooseneck barnacles.

It's been exactly three years since a huge tsunami in March 2011 took thousands of lives in Japan and washed whole villages out to sea.


It’s been almost 3 years since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water were released from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Fish there have been contaminated and some Japanese fisheries are still closed due to ongoing leaks. That’s made many people nervous about eating fish caught on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

Washington and other Pacific Coast states set up tsunami debris reporting hotlines in the wake of the 2011 disaster in Japan.

Hotline calls and emails to report suspected Japanese tsunami debris have gone way down this year. But West Coast states are still keeping their guard up in case another wave of flotsam from the 2011 disaster washes up on our shores.


The earthquake and tsunami threat to the Northwest from the offshore Cascadia fault was in the news in multiple ways Thursday. Canadian researchers have reconstructed a prehistoric record of great earthquakes on that shared fault. It reconfirms that we're due for another Big One. Coincidentally in Oregon, tsunami preparedness is getting a renewed look.

Here on the western coast of the U.S., we have a special connection to Japan. The ocean between us keeps bringing remnants from the massive tsunami there. It left more than 16,000 people dead. The debris is expensive to remove and can carry invasive species with it.

Judson Randall

Oregon authorities have contacted the Japanese Consulate in Portland to find out whether a piece of presumed tsunami debris that washed up at Oceanside on Friday is culturally significant.

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan served as a wake up call for coastal residents and visitors on our shores. But two years later, it is hard to measure how much that disaster has changed tsunami readiness on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Althea Rizzo is the geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management. She says she's certain tsunami awareness has increased.

SEATTLE - Building codes cover fire prevention, energy efficiency, and seismic safety among other things. Now a group of civil engineers from around the West is developing additions to the code to cover the threat of a tsunami.

Kent Yu of Degenkolb Engineers in Portland is one of the members of an American Society of Civil Engineers subcommittee drafting standards for "tsunami loads and effects."

"I think it is going to help make our communities more resilient."

Boat Washed Ashore Near Newport Possible Tsunami Debris

Feb 6, 2013
Oregon Office of Emergency Management

A boat that washed ashore on Gleneden Beach near Newport on the Central Oregon Coast appears to be debris from the March 2011 Japan tsunami.

Long Metal Pipe Found On Northwest Coast

Jan 30, 2013
Washington State Parks

A team from Washington Fish and Wildlife is trying to figure out whether the newest rusty visitor to the Northwest coast came from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The 19-foot-long metal pipe landed at Cape Disappointment near Ilwaco, Wash.

A dock that washed ashore on a remote Washington beach last month is now confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. This news comes just as the federal government requests bids from salvage companies to get rid of the huge hulk.

Photo courtesy Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

State and federal biologists say they are confident they have minimized the invasive species threat posed by a derelict dock that washed ashore last month in Olympic National Park. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan. But correspondent Tom Banse reports the story is not over yet.

National Park Service

Federal and state biologists are trekking back to a remote beach in Olympic National Park where a large dock washed ashore. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Most of the tsunami warning sirens in one Oregon coastal county will go silent in the New Year. Communities up and down the West Coast are phasing in more modern forms of emergency alerts. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

A reconnaissance team on the Washington coast has finally reached a large dock that washed ashore on an Olympic Peninsula beach early this week. The team found Japanese writing and Asian barnacles on the hollow concrete dock. That strongly suggests the hulk drifted across the ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan.

Large Dock Washes Up On Washington Coast

Dec 19, 2012

A massive dock has washed up on a remote wilderness beach in Olympic National Park.
It could be debris from last year’s tsunami in Japan.

Lull Or Tail End Of Japanese Tsunami Debris?

Dec 6, 2012
Photo by Tom Banse

It’s been more than four months since the last confirmed piece of Japanese tsunami debris washed ashore on the Pacific Northwest coast. Even sightings of suspected disaster debris have tapered way off in recent months. Does that mean we’re just in a lull or past the worst of it? Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the coast.