Tsunami Signs


OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION: Local agencies in California may begin installing Tsunami Signs in tsunami inundation areas as defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). Before installing signs local agencies should contact the following person at Caltrans for additional information about Federal Highway Administration requirements:

Don Howe, Senior Transportation Engineer
Traffic Operations, Traffic Engineering
(916) 654-2634  |  don.howe@dot.ca.gov


The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has developed signs for use in tsunami inundation areas. Caltrans asks local agencies to collect data and submit an interim report every six months and the a final report after two years of the initial sign installation. Data collected should indicate whether the signs are understandable to the public and motorists.

There are four (4) sign specifications as follows:

1) TSUNAMI EVACUATION ROUTE EM-1a

For use with Federal (MUTCD) auxiliary M5-1 Advance Turn Arrow & auxiliary M6-Series Directional Arrow.

The EM-1A (CA) has been discontinued.

Federal EM-1a was issued on 3/1/12, and is available in the SHS 2012 Supplement (see page 363 of 390 of the Supplement .pdf file).

EM-1A (CA) sign

2) TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE / IN CASE OF EARTHQUAKE GO TO HIGH GROUND OR INLAND EM-1B (CA)

EM-1B (CA) sign

3) ENTERING TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE EM-1C (CA)

Alternate message LEAVING TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE.

EM-1C (CA) ENTERING sign      EM-1C (CA) LEAVING sign

4) EVACUATION SITE EM-1D (CA)

EM-1D (CA) sign

5) TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE EM-1E (CA)

EM-1A (CA) sign


Specification Specifications & Policies:

  • Tsunami Sign Specification Drawings (updated 3-16-12)
  • EM-1A (CA) - Local emergency-management officials may designate evacuation routes and locations for placement of the TSUNAMI EVACUATION ROUTE {EM1-A (CA)} sign on State highways, and on local streets and roads.
  • EM-1B (CA) - Local emergency-management officials may designate appropriate locations for placement of the TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE / IN CASE OF EARTHQUAKE GO TO HIGHER GROUND OR INLAND {EM-1B (CA)} sign. The EM-1B (CA) may be posted near the coast in parking lots, at parks and beaches.
  • EM-1C (CA) - The ENTERING / LEAVING TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE {EM-1C (CA)} sign may be used to delineate the boundary of defined inundation areas on State highways, and on local streets and roads.
  • EM-1D (CA) - Local emergency-management officials may designate sites and locations for placement of the EVACUATION SITE {EM-1D (CA)} sign, which directs road users (including pedestrians and bicyclists) to safe areas.
  • EM-1E (CA) - If used, the TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE EM-1E (CA) sign may be placed at appropriate locations within the Tsunami Hazard Zone as necessary to alert road users.

Experimental Sign Locations: