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A short history of tsunamis hitting B.C.

B.C. boasts centuries of recorded tsunamis. Here are just a few of our big ones.

Anchorage, Alaska shows the effects of the 1964 earthquake that triggered a deadly tsunami along the Pacific coast. Walls of water swept into Port Alberni, B.C.

Handout/U.S. Government

Anchorage, Alaska shows the effects of the 1964 earthquake that triggered a deadly tsunami along the Pacific coast. Walls of water swept into Port Alberni, B.C.

B.C. boasts centuries of recorded tsunamis from near and far. Here are just a few of our big ones:

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Jan. 26, 1700

This massive temblor clocked in at 9.0-magnitude, according to detailed Japanese measurements of the waves' long journey across the Pacific 317 years ago. First Nations histories on the coast describe the tsunami killing all the inhabitants of Pachena Bay on Vancouver Island.

Apr. 1, 1946

Another Alaskan earthquake, this one near the Aleutian Islands, measured 8.6 on the Richter scale and took at least 165 lives by the time its tsunami arrived in Hawaii and as far as California — with waves 40 metres tall.

June 23, 1946

This magnitude 7.5 quake was right off B.C. — just east of Courtenay on Vancouver Island — so big it shook even Portland and Prince Rupert, both 500 km away. Two waves hit the west side of Texada Island, the first two metres high, the second half that — enough to cause serious damage near the seashores.

Oct. 22, 1960

Tsunamis can reach B.C. from the south, too. This 1960 tidal wave started with a mammoth 9.5-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile in South America, and by the time it reached Tofino and Haida Gwaii was just 1.2 metres high — still enough to cause significant damage along the shoreline and to log booms, and demolish a town as far away as Hawaii.

March 27, 1964

Like Tuesday's temblor, our continent's largest recorded quake was also Alaskan and sparked a 67-metre tsunami. Seven hours later, Port Alberni was hit by 2.5-metre waves, damaging 300 buildings but killing 121 elsewhere on the coast. Port Alberni's Lea Gardner, 83, calmly slept through Tuesday's evacuation. But in 1964, she fled that tsunami in a rowboat with her family.

—With files from The Canadian Press

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