Could a tsunami hit the U.S. West Coast?

According to the National Weather Service, the most damaging tsunami in the U.S. was caused by the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964

Video Transcript

- What do you think of when you hear the word "tsunami?" From land, they function more like a storm surge from a hurricane then those tidal waves you might be imagining. Tsunamis are caused by underwater disturbances, such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

In the US, there are more than 90 million people living in coastal counties. And while tsunamis big enough to pound the US are rare, research shows that some areas may have only minutes to react when the time comes.

Even distant sources can cause destruction. In 2011, the Tohoku-oki tsunami originating off the coast of Japan caused more than $100 million worth of damage here in the US.

The National Tsunami Warning Center takes the threat very seriously. They say all it takes is 3 feet of tsunami inundation to devastate a local community. But luckily, they also have a warning plan in place. But it's something to consider as record climate change is already causing ocean levels to rise and exacerbating natural disasters.