Five years ago water overran coastlines of more than a dozen countries in southeast Asia killing more than 200,000 people, raising the question -- could it happen here?
Signs being raised up and down the coast this month say "yes."
"Oh, we most definitely have a tsunami risk here," Geologist Pat Abott said.
Abott, who just happened to be working on the Tsunami chapter of his Natural Disasters textbook this weekend, says those signs come about the same time as new maps showing what areas are most at risk.
"A wave coming into a straight coastline is bad enough, but it's worse if it funnels into a bay," he said. "Now you take something like the walls of Mission Valley with the valley walls constrained, and you can push it up the valley quite a ways."
A sign posted in Ocean Beach is part of San Diego's effort to become what the National Weather Service's website calls Tsunami Ready. A title 11 areas in California can claim, only one of which, Imperial Beach, is here in San Diego.
But can signs really save lives?
“So, we're going to hear about it and then follow the signs to safety?" Chula Vista Resident Mike Reyes asked.
"I don't think people are going to take the time to look at the sign and know where to go,” El Cajon Resident Terri Crago said.
But according to Abott, it could be once every couple of thousand years.
"It's something that has happened in the past. It will happen again," the Geologist said.
Still, he says the reminder can't hurt.
"What's the worst that could happen? You're understanding more about the environment and the world you live in, and to me, that's always a good thing," Abott said.
Back in September, a tsunami warning was issued for San Diego after an earthquake in the South Pacific, but no damage was recorded.
There have been six damaging Tsunamis recorded along California's coast since 1812.