US Citizens travelling abroad

It is probably a bit of a pain to update while cruising, but the US State Department maintains a travel registry for US Citizens where you can list where you will be living or travelling and they will send you updates on any urgent issues for your area.

I registered when I moved to Victoria, BC and promptly forgot about it. They had never sent me any email until this one the day of the tsunami.

This Warden Message alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or residing on the
Pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada or residing on Vancouver
Island of a tsunami wave which is anticipated to hit land beginning
about 5:30 am local time on March 11, 2011.  A massive 8.9 magnitude
earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan at around 2:46
pm JST on March 11, causing damage with blackouts, fire and tsunami.
The large earthquake triggered a tsunami warning for countries all
around the Pacific ocean. British Columbia authorities are especially
warning the areas of the North Coast and the Haida Gwaii Islands; the
Central Coast including Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Shearwater; and
the outer West Coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Court
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
<> , "sea level readings confirm that a tsunami has
been generated which could cause widespread damage...A tsunami is a
series of waves and the first wave may not be the largest.  Tsunami wave
heights cannot be predicted and can vary significantly along a coast due
to local effects.  The time from one tsunami wave to the next can be
five minutes to an hour, and the threat can continue for many hours as
multiple waves arrive.  When no major waves are observed for two hours
after the estimated time of arrival or damaging waves have not occurred
for at least two hours then local authorities can assume the threat is
passed.  Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several
hours due to rapid currents.  As local conditions can cause a wide
variation in tsunami wave action, the all clear determination must be
made by local authorities."

NOAA anticipates that the waves will arrive at the Alaska/British
Columbia border beginning at 5:30 am; Vancouver Island at 6:20am;
Washington/British Columbia border at 7:00 am.

Granted, their email was too late to be effective for that particular type of emergency but for other types of emergencies it would still be a good notification system.


  1. I just returned from a 17 day trip to Singapore and China, with a day and a half in Honk Kong thrown in. Even though it was a business trip it was a good one. Flying back from Hong Kong to Seattle I passed through the Toyko airport on Wednesday. It was kinda freaky because many people were wearing surgical masks. And a newspaper said that there had been elevated radiation levels detected in Tokyo, but not dangerous to people?!?!? Yeh, right. Anyway, I survived. The only problem is that I glow when the lights are out which makes it a little difficult to get to sleep.

    Actually, I was happily surprised to see a customs agent in Seattle at the exit of the plane scanning each person with a radiation detector. They let me pass so I guess I'm OK. Have you heard about radioactive particles hitting the US-westcoast? I'm not too worried. Science and physics provide some comfort, that the danger here is less than a dentist’s x-ray. I guess I’ll stay away from dentists for a couple of years and we’ll call it even. What can we do anyway? Northern Japan is not so lucky. What a tragedy. And the mess will take many decades to clean up. Then there is Libya and all the rest. Jez, what a crazy world. Let's go sailing.

    Radiating happiness,

  2. Registering has a lot of benefits--you get the notices you described (probably more often in a place like Mexico), and if there is an emergency it's easier for the embassy to track you down to help if you want to be evacuated, etc.

    A friend of mine tells stories of traveling to remote islands in Indonesia to check on people after the tsunami there.



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