The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Special Weather Statement - Cold Air Funnels

National Weather Service - Portland has issued a Special Weather Statement at 4:00 p.m. today:

The air mass over northwest Oregon and southwest Washington is cool and unstable this afternoon and evening due to the recent passage of a cold front. This pattern can produce what is called cold air funnel clouds. These funnels do not usually touch the ground. However... if they do touch the ground they are dangerous and can be damaging. Had a third party report of what appears to be one of these near Tangent Oregon this afternoon. In the last hour... some thunderstorms have begun to develop over portions of the area. The potential for this event should decrease after sunset.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Weather Advisory

Snow.........again.

Winter Weather Advisory in effect from midnight tonight to 4 PM PST Wednesday for greater Portland/Vancouver Metro area... the Willamette Valley... the lower Columbia and the I-5 corridor in Cowlitz County...

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for snow... which is in effect from midnight tonight to 4 PM PST Wednesday.

* Timing... another cold and moist system will bring the possibility of snow to The Lowlands of southwest Washington and the Willamette Valley tonight and Wednesday. The possibility of
snow will increase in after midnight and continue through Wednesday afternoon.

* Accumulation... total snow accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible above 500 to 800 feet tonight through Wednesday afternoon... with less than one inch of snow below 500 feet.

* Snow levels... snow levels will lower to near 500 feet in southwest Washington and the Portland Metro area... to near 800 feet in the south Willamette Valley tonight... and hold at those levels on Wednesday.

* Impacts... roads in the higher hills may be snow covered and icy tonight through Wednesday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Weather Update for the Week

The National Weather Service (NWS) out of Portland has issued a special weather statement and hydrological outlook that may impact Cowlitz County. Synopsis is:

• Expect windy weather the next couple of days with wind gusts of up to 23 mph

• Heavy rain through Tuesday night may cause river levels to rise to bankfull (which is below flood stage). This rain will be snow in the Cascade mountains.

• A drop in freezing level Tuesday night is expected to bring snow showers with accumulations of less than 1 inch at the valley floor but more in the hills.

• Cold weather will continue through the weekend with the possibility of snow showers with small accumulations. The colder temperatures will probably reduce river levels.

Consult your normal weather source or the NWS website for full information.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

3:38 p.m.


What you ask is 3:38 p.m.? The beginning of a long night, and the official start of winter solstice. As the earth rotates the sun, winter solstice occurs when the sun's position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance from the northern hemisphere resulting in the shortest day and longest night of the year.

As a reminder that winter has begun, the forecast shows a little chance of snow in the upper elevations of our County as well as some breezy conditions. Be prepared for winter driving if travels take you over the hills and through the woods to Grandma's house this holiday season.

The forecast for Cowlitz County is:

Today - Mostly cloudy in the morning...then partly sunny. A chance of showers. Highs around 45. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Gusts to 25 mph. Rainfall amounts up to a quarter of an inch.

Tonight - Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain or snow. Snow level lowering to 1000 feet after midnight. Lows in the lower to mid 30s. Southeast wind 10 to 20 mph...gusts to 35 mph in the hills. Rainfall amounts around a tenth of an inch.

Wednesday - Rain likely. Snow level 1000 feet early...then rising to 2500 feet. Snow accumulation up to 2 inches. Highs 40 to 45. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Rainfall amounts around a tenth of an inch.

Wednesday Night - Cloudy with a chance of rain. Snow level 2500 feet. Lows around 35. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Rainfall amounts around a tenth of an inch.

Thursday - Rain. Highs around 45. Southeast wind 10 to 20 mph. Rainfall amounts up to one inch.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

*Chance* of Snow -- again

Per the National Weather Service, a storm system approaching from the south will move into the region late Friday night into Saturday morning and bring snow to the Columbia River Gorge and some locations in the Portland-Vancouver metro area. This may, or may not, have the potential for low-elevation snow in Cowlitz County. There is high confidence for accumulating snow in the Columbia River Gorge, but lower confidence for accumulating snow (above 1 inch), in the Portland-Vancouver metro area or Cowlitz County. In Cowlitz County specifically, snow levels are forecast to be about 1,000' Friday night and 1,500' Saturday night.

As the storm system approaches from the south, offshore flow (easterly winds) through the Columbia River Gorge will draw cold air into the northern Willamette Valley and Clark County. The air may be cold enough and deep enough to support snow. In the Portland-Vancouver metro area, the time frame for the potential for low elevation snow to occur will be late Friday night (after midnight) through Saturday morning (Dec 18). Snow is expected in the Columbia River Gorge late Friday night and Saturday. It is uncertain at this point in time how much snow may accumulate in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, if any. If frozen precipitation occurs in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, the precipitation is expected to turn over to all rain by Saturday afternoon. In the Columbia River Gorge and higher elevations, snow will persist through Saturday.

Please prepare for these conditions if your travels take you near the Portland Metro area or the Columbia Gorge. Also, as indicated, higher elevations in Cowlitz County could experience a small accumulation. DEM will monitor this storm and send updates as necessary.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Learn How to Sandbag

Cowlitz County Public Works is holding a sandbag class on the 16th of December. The class will be held at Cowlitz County Public Works, 1600 13th Avenue South, Kelso, WA 98626, from 6 – 8 pm. Les Miller from the Army Corps of Engineers will be the instructor and the agenda will include Levee Monitoring, Sand Bagging and new Flood Fight techniques.

If you have any questions or comments please contact Lance Ludwick at:

Lance Ludwick, P.E.
Diking Engineer
Cowlitz County Public Works
1600-13th Avenue South
Kelso, WA. 98626-2851
Tel: 360-577-3030

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weather & River Update - Saturday @ 8:30 PM

Southwest Washington, including Cowlitz County, continues to be under a flood watch through Monday morning. River levels continue to stay below flood stage as of Saturday at 20:30 hours with the Cowlitz at Kelso forecast to reach almost flood stage on Sunday morning at 8:00 AM. While we haven’t seen the amounts of rain originally forecast we must remain vigilant for the next storm system coming in on Sunday.

Weather forecast from the National Weather Service for Kelso:

Tonight: Rain. Temperature rising to around 54 by 5am. South southeast wind between 13 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Sunday: Rain. High near 56. South wind between 15 and 17 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Sunday Night: Rain, mainly before 4am. Low around 47. South wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Monday: Showers likely, mainly after 10am. Cloudy, with a high near 51. South wind between 6 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Monday Night: Rain. Low around 42. South wind between 9 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Check for further weather information at the National Weather Service site at:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/

River levels and forecasts can be found at:

http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/forecasts.php?wfo=pqr

The DEM duty officer will continue to monitor the situation and report as necessary.

Saturday River Forecasts

The National Weather Service river forecasts thus far show the rivers in our area staying below flood stage. The Department of Emergency Management duty officer is continuing to monitor the weather and river levels throughout the weekend. We will put out blog bulletins as the weekend progresses to notify residents of the current conditions and if any changes are forecast.

The one forecast we can make without any worries of being wrong is that it is a great day to sit inside by the fire and read a book.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flood Watch - Cowlitz River

... Flood Watch in effect from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning for northwest Oregon and southwest Washington...

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a

* Flood Watch for inland valleys of southwest Washington and the South Washington Cascades and foothills.
* From Saturday afternoon through Monday morning
* heavy rain Saturday will drive river levels up sharply starting Saturday afternoon and into Sunday.
* Several rivers may reach flood stage as early as Saturday afternoon... with the flood threat continuing into Monday. Southwest Washington river of most concern in Cowlitz County is the Cowlitz river.


Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

Landslides and debris flows are possible during this flood event. People... structures and roads located below steep slopes in canyons and near the mouths of canyons may be at serious risk from rapidly moving landslides.

You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

The Deluge - Be Prepared!

The National Weather Service is calling for wet weather for the weekend and into next week as the result of two weather systems heading towards Cowlitz County. Rivers are expected to be near or going over their banks as a result of these weather systems. This will potentially cause water over roads, trees to fall across roads, and slides to block roads. As a result Cowlitz County Emergency Management (DEM) is recommending that everyone be prepared for weather related emergencies with the following tips:

• Do not drive into standing water over roads or streets – it is extremely dangerous!
• Have a 72 hour supply of water and food in case you become stranded at home.
• Watch for downed trees and power lines – remember never touch a downed power line!
• Check the Cowlitz County Road Closure page for closed or impacted roads. This website is available on the DEM website located at: http://www.co.cowlitz.wa.us/dem/roads/ .
• Clean out the water drains around your home including removing tree leaves from street drains.
• If you live in an area that has experienced flooding in the past keep aware of the conditions in your area so you can evacuate if the water gets high.
• Keep tuned to local weather stations on your TV or radio for updated information.

Cowlitz County DEM will regularly put out updated information on our Blog located at: http://cowlitzcountydem.blogspot.com/ . Check the Blog often for new information. You can also received short updates by registering with Twitter to receive our tweets. You can do this by going to the text messaging section of your phone and typing the number 40404 in the place of a phone number then type “follow cowlitzdem” (without the quotation marks) in the text section. Disregard the message that you should sign up for your own Twitter account and you will be set to go.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Urban Flood Advisory 4:48 p.m., December 9th

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued an

* Urban Flood Advisory for minor flooding of poor drainage areas
in............ western Cowlitz County in southwest Washington...

* until 1045 PM PST.

* At 448 PM PST National Weather Service weather radar and weather
spotters reported very heavy rain over northwest Oregon and
southwest Washington. Rain... heavy at times is expected to
continue this evening... before decreasing late in the evening.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause ponding of water in
urban areas... highways... streets and underpasses as well as other
poor drainage areas and low lying spots.

Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the
roadway. The water depth may be too great to allow your car to cross
safely.

Wet Weekend Ahead

National Weather Service - Portland just had a briefing with Emergency Managers to advise about the tropical moisture headed our way.

This system is kind of a 1-2-3 punch so I will break it down that way.

Thursday night/Friday (Dec 9/10):
  • Warm, wet system creating rain heavy at times

Saturday/Sunday (Dec 11/12):
  • Strongest system of moisture
  • Freezing levels will rise from approximately 3,500' to 6,000', then to 9,000'
  • 1-3" of precipitation in Cowlitz County interior
  • Timing is fairly certain, exact location of heaviest rainfall is difficult to pinpoint
  • River levels will rise sharply on Saturday night/Sunday morning
  • Cowlitz River at Kelso is currently expected to stay about 1' below flood stage (this will be monitored closely as the location, intensity and duration of heavy rainfall can change things quickly)
  • Small stream and urban flooding is always a possibility in heavy rainfall events

Sunday evening, we can expect a break in the action as a cold front moves through. Rivers should have a small reprieve and recede slightly before Monday's system.


Monday/Tuesday (Dec 13/14):
  • Another wet/warm system bringing an additional 1-3" of rain, heavy at times.

Please remember that forecasted river levels take into account projected snowmelt associated with the rise of freezing levels. Gauged rivers in Cowlitz County can be monitored at the following links.

Weather advisories issued for Cowlitz County by NWS-Portland can be found at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/

Monday, November 29, 2010

November Blows Away....

Although there is not an advisory or a watch in effect for the I-5 Corridor in Cowlitz County, we thought it prudent to let you know that it will be gusty tonight and tomorrow. As you can see the forecast from National Weather Service - Portland indicates gusts as high as 26 mph tonight and a very steady wind tomorrow with gusts up to 38 mph.

Tonight: Rain. Low around 35. South southeast wind between 11 and 17 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Tuesday: Rain. High near 42. Breezy, with a south wind between 17 and 24 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Tuesday Night: Showers. Low around 35. South wind between 3 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Winds of this magnitude fall just below the threshold for any type of warnings or watches but definitely fit in the "good to know" category.

On the other hand, if you are venturing east to the mountains or west to the beach tomorrow, the precipitation in the mountains is sure to be snow and the "breezes" at the coast become high winds. Click on the hyperlinks for up-to-date warnings in those areas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Weather

The weather continues to be a concern as we enter the Thanksgiving weekend.  The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting the possibility of freezing rain in the Gorge on Thursday night and Friday morning.  The mountains may also see another coating of snow with hazardous road conditions.  Locally the snow should be changing to rain after 10 AM for the remainder of the weekend with temperatures at night staying above freezing and during the daytime in the low 40's.

We find the best place to start a trip is to check the NWS website at: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/.  Put this link in your favorites for the winter.  So if you plan to travel this weekend keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Cowlitz County Emergency Management!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Driving in Snow and Ice

With temperatures remaining below the freezing point tonight, safe driving tips are in order. The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all if you can avoid it. But, with the Thanksgiving holiday on our heels, that may not be an option. If you must drive, please follow these safety tips:

Driving Safely on Icy Roads:

  1. Decrease your speed and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

  3. Turn on your headlights to increase visibility.

  4. Don't use cruise control on icy roads.

  5. Bridge and overpassess and infrequently traveled roads freeze first. Be especially careful.

  6. Even four wheel and front wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on ice, be cautious.

  7. Never pass snow plows or sanding trucks!

If your rear wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.

  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go.

  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side.

  4. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes, you will feel the brakes pulse -- this is normal.


If your front wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.

  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in drive and accelerate gently.

If you must drive in adverse conditions, make sure your car is prepared and that you know how to handle road conditions. Carry an emergency car kit at all times.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Generator Safety

Winter is here and with that comes the threat of power outages. Please practice safe generator operation!

GENERATOR SAFETY

  • Never run a generator inside your home or garage. Deadly carbon monoxide fumes can build up.

  • Never try to power house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. It can lead to electrocution of utility workers or neighbors served by the same utility transformer.

  • Check out Power Outage information on our website.

Washington State Emergency Management Division has provided a couple of videos regarding generator operation and carbon monoxide poisoning. The links to these videos are:

http://www.emd.wa.gov/preparedness/videos/video_generatorsafety.shtml

http://www.emd.wa.gov/preparedness/videos/video_carbonmonoxide.shtml

CUBS Bus Route Changes for Wednesday Morning

CUBS Bus Route Changes:

Route 12: CVG/WEST LONGVIEW: Eliminate Pacific Way -- alternate route: 30th Ave to Pennsylvania Ave to 38th Ave and then as normal.

Route 20: Kelso - Eliminate 8th Ave from Ash to Allen Street - alternate: left on Grade from Ash to Allen Street, right on Allen Street continue on route; Eliminate Crawford Street -- alternate route: 7th Ave to Cowlitz Way

Route 21: NORTH KELSO: Eliminate Crawford Street -- alternate route: Cowlitz Way to 7th; Eliminate Burcham and Bates Rd -- alternate route: Kelso Drive

Route 10 and 11 will remain the same.

Route changes are effective until 7 PM tomorrow (Wednesday, November 24th). Further advisories will be forthcoming. Stay tuned to your local radio station for current information.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CUBS Bus Weather Related Schedule Changes

Route Changes at this time:

Route 12: CVG/WEST LONGVIEW: Eliminate Pacific Way -- alternate route: 30th Ave to Pennsylvania Ave to 38th Ave and then as normal.

Route 20: Kelso - Eliminate 9th Ave from Ash to Allen Street - alternate: left on Grade from Ash to Allen Street, right on Allen Street continue on route; Eliminate Crawford Street -- alternate route: 7th Ave to Cowlitz Way

Route 21: NORTH KELSO: Eliminate Crawford Street -- alternate route: Cowlitz Way to 7th; Eliminate Burcham and Bates Rd -- alternate route: Kelso Drive

Route 10 and 11 will remain the same.

Route changes are effective until 7 PM tomorrow (Tuesday, November 23rd). Further advisories will be forthcoming. Stay tuned to your local radio station for current information.

Cowlitz 9-1-1 Phone Outage on November 23

The Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Center will conduct a software upgrade of the emergency phone system which will require our phone lines to be out of service for approximately 20 minutes on Tuesday November 23rd,2010 from 4:00 to 4:20 AM.

Our 9-1-1 trunks will be transferred to Clark County Dispatch during that time, and our business lines will be transferred to our records department and handled as usual by 9-1-1 dispatchers. Because Clark County Dispatch is our primary emergency backup center with trained 9-1-1 Dispatchers, the public should not anticipate any service interruption. Clark County Dispatch will relay 9-1-1 call information by radio to the Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Dispatcher who will dispatch emergency responders.

If you have questions or concerns please contact Deanna Wells Operations Manager with Cowlitz County 9-1-1 at 360-414-5517 or 360-577-3090.

Winter Weather Advisory

10:08 a.m., November 22, 2010

... Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect until 10 PM PST this
evening for the lower Columbia... greater Portland Metro
area including Clark County and the I-5 corridor in southwest
Washington... .

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow remains in effect until 10 PM
PST this evening

* timing... snow will increase north of Portland early this
afternoon and slowly transition to snow southward through the
afternoon. Precipitation will turn to all snow during the late
afternoon and evening before tapering off before midnight.

* Snow level... north of the Kelso near the surface to 400 feet
lowering to the surface by mid afternoon.

Kelso south 500 to 1200 feet lowering to the surface late this
afternoon and early evening.

* Accumulation... 2 to 5 inches in Washington... with highest
amounts in Cowlitz County and higher hills. 1 to 3 inches in Oregon
portion with highest amounts in the higher hills.

* Impacts... roads may become slick and hazardous for travel...
especially during the late afternoon commute.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means that periods of snow
will cause primarily travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow
covered roads and limited visibilities... and use caution while
driving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

*Snow*

Just finished a webinar with the National Weather Service - Portland. The weather pattern is conducive for snow at low elevations tonight and tomorrow. Cowlitz County, and areas north of Portland, are the most likely places for snow tonight (or right now as my peek outside shows). Current information is as follows:
  • One inch of snow to 500' tonight in Cowlitz County
  • Monday afternoon and evening has the potential for 2" of snow down to the valley floor
  • By Monday, temperatures will be lows of mid 20s and highs of mid 30s, this will continue through Tuesday
  • Temperatures are not expected to moderate until later in the week so the snow that falls will likely not melt right away

Enjoy the first snowfall of the season, be prepared and be safe.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Safe Driving Tips

Press Release from Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office:

Are you planning to take a road trip during the holidays? Here are some safe driving tips from local law enforcement and the Cowlitz County Traffic Safety Task Force:

1. Plan your trip ahead of time and have an alternate route, just in case there are road closures or bad weather.


2. Check traffic and weather reports before you leave. Allow plenty of time so that you do not feel rushed and can take plenty of breaks.

3. Wear your seatbelt and make sure your children are in their proper child car seats, booster seats, or seatbelts and that they ride in the back seat.

4. Make sure you have extra blankets, coats, boots, and an Emergency Disaster Kit. This should be filled with the necessities such as: food, water, flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, a first aid kit, road flares, etc.

5. Don't drive under the influence of anything—drugs or alcohol.

6. Make sure that, if you have to use a cell phone while driving, you do it legally.

7. Take your car into an automotive shop and have your tires, fluids, and engine checked one week before your trip.

8. If you have children, make sure they have games and toys to keep themselves occupied so that you can concentrate on your driving.

9. Have another licensed and insured driver with you so that you can take turns at the wheel.

10. Make sure you have tire chains, de-icer, and a shovel in case of unexpected snow or ice.

SAFE KIDS Lower Columbia will be sponsoring a FREE car seat clinic on November 20 at the Castle Rock Fire Station starting at 10am. Please stop by if you have children and get your seat checked out. It's a free service—be safe instead of sorry. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Cold and Dry

The summary of events forecasted for the next few days per Portland National Weather Service is as follows:


  • Cold air will move into the Pacific Northwest Friday - Tuesday

  • Slight chance of snow or snow flurries to the valley floor Sunday/Monday

  • When cold air arrives, moisture is expected to be very minimal making chance of a snow accumulation very unlikely

  • Temperatures Friday through Sunday will range between 30 and 40 degrees

  • Long term forecast temperatures Monday-Thursday next week will range between mid-20s to 40 degrees.

Brrr - Are You Ready?

The National Weather Service Portland is forecasting a cold week with the potential for *snow* in the valley. Here it is in their own words:

... The coldest weather of the season is expected late this week into early next week in the interior valleys of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon and in the western Columbia River gorge...

A complex and cold low pressure system will linger near the coast through the weekend. This system will bring the coldest air of the season to the interior valleys and the western Columbia River gorge.

Snowfall will generally be limited to areas above 1000 to 1500 feet through the weekend. However... areas in the Columbia River gorge could see snow levels fall to near the surface. The snow level may also briefly fall to below 1000 feet anywhere in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington in the vicinity of heavier showers.

More significant cold air may filter into southwest Washington and northwest Oregon late in the weekend and into early next week. If this cold Arctic air materializes... it will bring the coldest air of the season to the area... with low temperatures possibly falling into at least the 20s in the valleys. If any moisture is available... this could also bring snow to the valley floors by early next week. While a lot of details are still up in the air... now would be a good time to make preparations for a significant cold snap by protecting tender plants... wrapping outdoor faucets... and covering foundation vents.


Later this afternoon, DEM will be attending a weather briefing with NWS-Portland. Any updates or changes to this information will be provided after that meeting. Be prepared and stay warm!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter Weather Enroute?

And so it begins..... Today, the National Weather Service issued its first Winter Storm Warning of this winter for the SW Washington Cascades.

From noon on Wednesday to midnight on Thursday, snow levels will drop to 1500 feet and 10-14 inches of snow is anticipated. Two more frontal band of moisture on Thursday could bring another 4-8 inches each to the areas around Mt. St Helens and the Cascades in Oregon.

The Center for Disease Control puts out a great guide for preparing for winter weather. You might start thinking today about being prepared for tomorrow!

Reprinted from the CRESA Blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hall of Justice Phones Back in Operation

Repairs to the phones at the Hall of Justice have been successful and operations returned to normal.  Thanks you for your patience and cooperation during this time.

Hall of Justice Phone Lines Out

The business phone lines coming into the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice are out. No incoming or outgoing calls are working at this time. Maintenance crews are working to fix the problem.

The Sheriff's Office has established an alternate business line. That phone number is 360-636-5160.

The 9-1-1 lines into the Dispatch Center are operational. Please do not call 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency.

Public Information Officer for this event is Stephanie Dunn at the County Commissioners office phone 360-577-3020.

Further information will be distributed as it becomes available.

Monday, November 8, 2010

CDID#3 Needs a Few Good Volunteers

CDID #3 of Cowlitz County serving South Kelso, needs a few good volunteers who are interested in training to become Dike Patrol Leaders. The time to do this is now, before we experience a high water event. The more trained leaders there are, the better chance of keeping Kelso dry during the rainy season.

If this is of interest to you, a training class will be held November 30th at the Department of Public Works building, 1600 13th Avenue S., Kelso, WA. Please call 423-2642 to sign up for the class.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bad Weather Driving Tips

RAIN:

· To improve visibility, turn on your lights and defroster.
· Try to drive in the tracks of the car ahead, reduce your speed and allow for additional stopping distance.
· Be very careful during light rain and mist. Dirt and oil on the roadway surface can create very slippery road conditions.
· Puddles of rain can conceal potentially damaging potholes.
· Hydroplaning can occur. When this happens, the tires of your car lose contact with the road and ride up on a wedge of water. Make sure your tires have good tread and are properly inflated. If your car does hydroplane, keep the steering wheel straight; take your foot off the gas and do not hit your brakes or try to steer. As your speed slows, the weight of the car will cause the car to settle down onto the road again.

FLOOD:

· DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE THROUGH FLOOD WATERS. The water may be deeper than it appears. Two feet of water can carry away most vehicles.
· If you happen to drive into an area where water is running swiftly, the force of the current may pull your car to one side. If this happens, ease off the gas but don’t touch the brakes. Then steer away from the swift water.
· If your car is caught in a flash flood, get out of your car immediately and move to higher ground.

FOG:

· If you see a patch of fog ahead, slow down before you reach it.
· Turn on your low beam headlights or fog lights.
· Turn on your defroster and windshield wipers.
· Be alert for slow moving vehicles and traffic stopped ahead.
· In heavy fog, roll your windows down. You may hear other cars before you see them.

*Information supplied by the Washington Military Department, Emergency Management Division

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PacifiCorps Exercise Today

Cowlitz County DEM, and several other agencies in Southwest Washington, are participating in a functional exercise with PacifiCorp (operator of Lewis River dams) this morning.  This exercise will involve an emergency on the Lewis River.  If you hear something on the radio, or through some other method, of an emergency on the Lewis River or involving the dams, please disregard.  The exercise will be ending at noon.   Thank you!

West Longview Armed Robbery Suspect Located

The suspect in the West Longview armed robbery has been located.  There is no longer a danger to residents in that area.  An Emergency Community Notification System reverse calling message has been issued to residents within one mile of that location.  Please check your news media outlets for additional information as it becomes available.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Armed Robbery West Longview

Law enforcement officers are investigating an armed robbery in West Longview.  The suspect fired shots at police when they stopped his car at the intersection of Coal Creek and Pacific Way.  The male suspect fled on foot and is believed to still be in the area.  Suspect is considered armed and dangerous.  Residents in the area of Coal Creek and Pacific are asked to stay indoors and lock their doors.  Report any suspicious activity to 9-1-1 immediately.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One, two, three -- Punch!

The following is summarized from the National Weather Service Special Weather Statements.   
The high pressure that has provided the area with mostly sunny skies will give way to a series of storm systems to affect Washington and Oregon this weekend.

The first system went through our area last night.  What?  You missed it.   Well, it was a weak system providing a typical Autumn rain.    Consider it as priming the pumps.

The second system will come through tonight and into Saturday morning. It will bring clouds and showers to the area and approximately 1/2" of rain in the valley.

The third system on the way for Saturday night and Sunday (pictured above) will be markedly more intense.    This system will bring high seas, high winds and dangerous surf conditions to the coast.    The mountains will have snow down to pass level, mainly between 4,000 and 5,000 feet.    For the valley, 1-2" of rain is expected Saturday night through Monday, gusty winds 30-40 mph and exasperated conditions due to tree leaves, clogged drains, etc. 

The message for this weekend is to be prepared for power outages, windy conditions and the potential for surface flooding from clogged drains.    Now would be the time to clean out gutters, put together a preparedness kit, and talk with family members about emergency plans.   Visit Cowlitz County DEM's Preparedness Page for more valuable information.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wet and Windy Conditions by the Weekend

Information from the National Weather Service:

The upper ridge which has given the Pacific northwest sunny and warm Fall weather will shift east Thursday and Thursday night.  This will allow an increasingly strong westerly jet stream to impact the northwest over the weekend.

The first storm is expected to impact the coast Thursday night and Friday with a glancing blow to northwest Oregon. Rain and wind will be mostly along the north coast.

A second storm system is anticipated around Saturday morning. This system will bring increasing rain ahead of a warm front as a weakening surface low sweeps in from the southwest.

Computer models show a strong low pressure system developing in the Gulf of Alaska on Saturday... fueled by moisture of tropical origin. A very strong westerly jet stream associated with this low is currently expe cted to push a strong frontal system into western Oregon and southwest Washington Saturday night. There is a potential for heavy rain and strong winds with this system... especially along the Oregon and Washington coast.

Snow levels will remain above pass levels through Saturday with snow falling on the higher Cascade peaks. The snow level should lower Sunday and Monday with significant snow expected in the Cascades down to near pass levels.

People planning outdoor activities... especially in the mountains and along the coast should be ready for deteriorating weather conditions... heavy rain... strong gusty winds... cooler weather and snow at the higher elevations. These conditions are expected to last into next week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What Will This Winter Be Like?

The Oregon Chapter American Meteorological Society met in Portland to discuss the upcoming winter with local and regional experts. A standing room only crowd of 350 people were in attendance.  The end result of this abundance of weather expertise is the Forecast Synopsis, which we have shared below:

Forecast Synopsis

“With a moderate to strong La Nina well underway, the majority of experts at today’s annual forecast meeting predict a wetter and cooler than normal winter overall for Oregon. Snow pack in the Cascades is likely to be at or above normal this winter. In some analog (similar) years in the past, the Cascades have experienced near record snow amounts. George Taylor, Applied Climate Services Climatologist, LLC, Corvallis, Oregon, says, “wet, wild and windy weather is in store for the coming winter.” Pete Parsons, Oregon Department of Forestry Meteorologist, Salem, Oregon says, “this winter is likely to be markedly different from last year. Parsons went on to say, “I would be surprised if we made it through this winter without seeing at least one arctic air mass and low elevation snow event.” Tyree Wilde, NOAA-National Weather Service WC Meteorologist, Portland says, “wet, wet, wet this winter.” Forecasters also noted that it has been 15 years since the last major windstorm to strike Oregon on December 12th 1995, which was also a La Nina winter that featured a record setting flood, arctic air and snow.


So, there you have it, looks like umbrellas, tire chains and preparedness kits are top priority for the Christmas list.   I'm sure the kids will understand!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Freezing Weather Expected

The National Weather Service is warning of temperatures in the low to mid 30s tonight. This could be the first frost of the fall season. Take steps to protect your plants from freezing temperatures. Keep an eye on current weather forecasts for additional information.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Doesn't Your Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Your homeowners insurance doesn't cover floods, but Federal flood insurance does. Floods can happen anytime, anywhere. They cause anguish and destruction--physical, emotional and financial. Especially when victims realize the damage isn't covered by their homeowners insurance policy. Federal disaster assistance isn't necessarily the answer either. In most cases, the only aid disaster victims may qualify for is a loan that must be repaid with interest. Only Federal flood insurance reimburses you for flood damage to your property. With one annual premium, you can protect your most important investment--your home and your finances. Call your insurance agent or company today and ask about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There's no better way to save for a rainy day.... For more information about the NFIP, call 1-800-427-4661 or contact your local insurance agent.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fire Prevention Week Open House

Come join us in Lexington for Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue's Fire Prevention Week Open House. The event will be held on Saturday, October 9th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue Lexington Station, 1796 Westside Hwy, Kelso. This FREE event includes interactive safety booths, games, giveaways, prizes, free blood pressure checks and much, much more! Stop by to enjoy a free hot dog, courtesy of Foster Farms, get coupons for free ice cream from Kelso McDonald's and lots of other goodies. See you there!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Free Workshops Coming Up

Our local ServiceMaster restoration/cleaning company will be holding two FREE workshops coming up. The first one will address Water Damage Mitigation on October 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at 2305 Columbia Hts Road in Longview. Water damage is prevalent after flooding and burst pipes. The second workshop will be all about Smoke and Odor Mitigation. This class will be held on November 17th, same time and location. To R.S.V.P for this class, please contact Jeremy Wilson at 425-3331 or by email at Jeremy.Wilson@servicemasterjts.com. To learn more about the various services that ServiceMaster provides, click here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

ECNS Test in CR Today

DEM, in cooperation with the City of Castle Rock, will be conducting our annual test of the Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS), Monday, September 27th, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. for residents inside the SW and SE sections of the City of Castle Rock. ECNS is a reverse-calling system that allows emergency officials to send a recorded emergency message directly to the residents of an affected area via landline phones.

Residents in the area specified can expect a phone call with a recorded message indicating that a test is being conducted by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. No further action is required.

All county residents without a landline phone, can register their cell-phone or VOIP phone by visiting the Cowlitz County Emergency Management blog at www.cowlitzcountydem.blogspot.com, clicking on the “Alert Cowlitz County” icon on the right-hand side of the screen and following the prompts. This allows these residents to receive these messages also.

If you have any questions regarding the test, please contact the Department of Emergency Management at (360) 577-3130.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daily News Mentions ECNS

Click here to see the article about Emergency Community Notification System written by the Daily News. We are happy to get the word about about this system, however we would like to clarify a few points. First, the system is a "reverse calling system", not a "reverse 9-1-1 system." The data originates from landline phone companies, not from a 9-1-1 database. Please DO NOT call 9-1-1 to try to register your phone. Secondly, it is a landline based system that has been upgraded to include cell phone and VOIP phones. The limitation is that you must register your cellphone or VOIP via the ECNS website and you must have an valid email address. If you have questions about the system, please call our office at (360) 577-3130.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Baker's Corner 45th Anniversary Open House

Come join us at the Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue Baker's Corner 45th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, September 11th. The event will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Station 22 (5699 Ocean Beach Hwy, Longview). There will be FREE hot dogs and beverages, education booths, bike helmet and life jacket fittings and demos, free blood pressure checks and much, much more! Stop by and check out the Life Flight helicopter at 1:00 or participate in the waterball competition at 2:00. There will also be a 9/11 Memorial Dedication at noon at the 701 Vine Street station in Kelso.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hostage Situation Unfolds on Twitter

Our focus this month, and really for the past few months, has been on social media and its various uses in the field of emergency management. A recent situation, as in one that just occurred a few hours ago, has once again highlighted, underscored, bold-face-typed the need for emergency response agencies to actively monitor and use social media outlets, namely Twitter.

If an agency waits to address an emergency situation until all the facts are in, they are already at a disadvantage and wasting time reacting to the information that the public has already put out there in 140 characters or less. It is far more advantageous to acknowledge that a situation has occurred, it is being handled and more information will be shared as it becomes available. With regard to the Discovery Building gunman, as quickly as the first employee became aware of the situation, #Discovery became a trending hashtag on Twitter and the race for information was on.
In minutes, Twitter junkies and the internet-savvy had the gunman’s name, found his Myspace page, webpage, blog page and various YouTube videos. Obviously, no agency can compete with young people with an abundance of technological expertise and time on their hands. However, any strides that agencies are able to make into the world of social media are worthwhile.

Please take a minute to check out this article from Elizabeth Chuck at msnbc.com regarding how quickly information can get out in this age of Twitter.

Social media matters and it's not going away. As much as it seems to be the hot new thing right now, I don't believe that it will go the way of pet rocks, pogs and Members Only jackets. With its myriad uses in the world of emergency notification, combined with the public's seemingly insatiable quest for instant knowledge, this is one techno-fad that is here to stay.

Happy National Preparedness Month!

September is designated by the Department of Homeland Security as National Preparedness Month. This awareness month is also supported by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council and is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

The Ready Campaign encourages the following actions:

1.Get A Kit
2.Make A Plan
3.Be Informed

You can stay informed by learning more about the potential emergencies, both natural and man-made, that could happen where you live and the appropriate way to respond to them. For more information, visit our website here.

Another way you can stay informed is by registering your cell phones and VoIP phones with Cowlitz County's Emergency Community Notification System. Landline phones are already set up to receive emergency information for a specified area, but cell phones and VoIP are considered an "opt-in" program and must be registered by their owner. Registering these additional contact devices ensures that citizens receive the critical, time sensitive, and potentially life-saving messages.


If you have not yet registered your cell phone for this free service, you can do so by clicking the "Alert Cowlitz County" icon to your right, up the page a little bit. Yep, right up there, with the picture of the phone. See it? Ok.

If you have questions about the ECNS system, please feel free to contact our office by email at DEM@co.cowlitz.wa.us or by phone at (360) 577-3130.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Are You Properly Insured for Disaster?

August 29th marks the 5th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, the most costly disaster in United States history. Check out this article from PR Newswire about the effects of being uninsured or under insured following a natural disaster.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weekend Road Closures

From Columbia & Cowlitz Railway:

Beacon Hill Drive will have two-lane intermittent road closures from Saturday, August 28th through Sunday, August 29th for railroad trestle maintenance. Work will occur between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Traffic will be stopped in both directions for up to 15 minutes.

The rail crossing on 30th Avenue just north of the Longview Fred Meyer will also be closed for repairs most of Saturday.

The closure will start at 7:00 a.m. and will likely continue until 9:00 p.m.

Local access will be maintained to the point of construction. Drivers are encouraged to take alternative routes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weather Alerts and Red Flag Warning

The Portland National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook and a Red Flag Warning for Cowlitz County and surrounding areas. Temperatures will heat up quickly today reaching the 90's for most inland locations by early afternoon. A combination of hot, dry and unstable conditions combined with gusty offshore winds are creating a high fire hazard today. The red flag warning will be in effect until 11:00 p.m. this evening.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trestle Work on Westside Hwy to Slow Traffic

NOTICE OF ROAD CLOSURE

Westside Highway (SR411) in the vicinity of milepost 3.35 (near Carnival Market) will have an intermittent two-lane road closure from Friday, August 20 through Sunday, August 22 for railroad trestle maintenance.

Work will resume between the hours of
9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.

Traffic will be stopped in both directions for up to 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Follow Cowlitz DEM via Text Messaging

Awhile back, the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management launched our Blog and Twitter account as part of our social media footprint. But this week, it became even easier to get information from DEM without ever having to establish your own "Twitter Account." If you are like me and tend to shy away from newfangled technology like smart phones and "the" Twitter, this is a great option for you to stay informed without spending a bunch of money or confusing yourself with apps and data plans and whatever else the kids are doing these days. (Yes, it's true, inside my Gen-X body lives a crotchety geriatric. Get off my lawn! Pull up your pants! Get a haircut! Get a job!)

Anyway, to receive the DEM Twitter messages directly to your cell phone, simply:

1.Put 40404 on the "To" line of your Text Message
2.Put FOLLOW Cowlitzdem in the 'Body" of the Text Message

To stop receiving our Twitter messages via text messaging, simply text UNFOLLOW Cowlitzdem to the same number.

You will receive an auto-message which confirms you are following or have unfollowed our Twitter feed. It takes about 5 minutes to confirm and receive any tweets from that day. If there are no new tweets that day, it may not send you anything until another tweet is entered.

This is an opt-in service and DEM is not able to determine who does or doesn't follow us via text messaging. Standard text-messaging rates will apply based on your cell phone carrier & plan.

We are excited about this option because mobile texting is more common than Twitter accounts in most communities, so it is another way for us to get important messages out to our local community in a timely manner.

So, that's all..until we tweet again....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More on the Sonic Boom

from MSNBC

Fighters sent after Air Force 1 space is violated

SEATTLE — A float plane flying near the Seattle airfield where Air Force One was parked Tuesday triggered a scramble by military fighter jets, resulting in two sonic booms that set off car alarms and caused a failure in a 911 system, authorities said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the pilot landed on the north end of Lake Washington, about eight miles from Boeing Field, before the fighters arrived. The FAA said the pilot was being questioned by authorities.

A Secret Service spokesman said the incident "appears to be a routine violation of the temporary flight restriction" in place for Air Force One.

President Barack Obama was in Seattle on Tuesday to stump for Sen. Patty Murray on a three-day campaign swing for endangered Democrats, and the airspace around Boeing Field was restricted.

A spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, John Cornelio, said the F-15 jets were sent from Portland, Ore. Cornelio says the fighters were from the Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing.

KING 5 News reported being flooded with calls and e-mails from people who heard and felt the explosions. Many people reported that their homes shook, KING 5 reported.

Detective Ed Troyer with the Pierce Co. Sheriff's Dept. told KING 5 that the 911 system was down via landlines in areas of Pierce County for a time and car and home alarms were set off by the booms.

Kenmore Air president Todd Banks says the incursion was by a plane that landed at his float plane base on Lake Washington. A passenger, Laura Joseph of Normandy Park, told The Associated Press she and the pilot were returning from Lake Chelan in eastern Washington and didn't know of the flight restrictions.

Did you hear the boom?

Washington State Patrol has confirmed that a sonic boom resulted from an authorized military exercise sometime before 2:00 p.m. today. Several residents in the Coal Creek, Stella and Eufala Heights areas felt their homes shake. A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created by the supersonic flight of an aircraft. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding much like an explosion. The crack of a supersonic bullet passing overhead is an example of a sonic boom in miniature. So, in short, no...it wasn't your neighbor Daryl's various illegal hobbies that finally exploded. Maybe next time. Updated 2:13pm from Katu.com:

Authorities report two very loud "booms" in the region were caused by two fighter jets scrambled out of Portland to investigate an aircraft that got into restricted air space near Air Force One today. More details soon.

2:19 from Komo 4

SEATTLE -- F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Portland to deal with an unknown aircraft that had entered restricted air space over Western Washington caused two sonic booms that were heard across a wide swath of the region, the FAA reported Tuesday.

Several calls from worried residents from Olympia to Seattle flooded emergency dispatchers and the KOMO Newsroom reporting two distinct explosions that rattled windows and shook homes.

The FAA had restricted a large area to aircraft over Seattle due to President Obama's visit.

A spokesman with the Oregon Air National Guard said two F-15s from their 142nd Fighter Wing were scrambled on a "real world mission" from their base at Portland International Airport but could not elaborate on what the mission entailed.

Avoid Algae Blooms in Silver Lake

From http://www.tdn.com/

For the second consecutive summer, the Cowlitz County Health Department is warning the public to avoid algae blooms in Silver Lake.

The lake is not closed to recreation. However, the public is strongly encouraged to avoid contact with the water where algae is visibly present, health officials said.

"People can still use the lake, but they just need to stay away from any algae bloom," said Janis Housden, the health department's public information officer.

Health officials Monday posted cautionary signs read "toxic algae may be present" after routine monitoring found the blooms last week. Additional education signs are posted as well.

Some species of algae produce toxins harmful to humans and pets if they swallow or touch the green and scummy growth. Health officials took water samples Monday and sent them to the state Department of Ecology to be checked. Test results are expected early next week, Housden said.

Algae blooms give the water an overall green or blue-green color. It's often accompanied by an unpleasant odor.

There have been no reports of illness of humans or animals from contact with Silver Lake. Drinking water from public water systems or private wells in the areas around the lake is unaffected by the bloom and is safe to drink. Fish are safe to eat as long as the digestive organs are removed.

Symptoms of exposure to certain algae toxins include stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, blurred vision, convulsions or severe muscle and joint pains. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, rashes and blisters are also possible. Symptoms may occur within minutes, hours or even up to days after exposure.

Anyone who has these symptoms should see a doctor.

In August 2009, health department officials posted signs for about two weeks warning people and their animals to avoid contact with the lake water after harmful toxins were discovered in the algae bloom.

Monday, August 16, 2010

National Weather Service Issues Red Flag Warning

From the Portland National Weather Service:
The hot, dry, unstable air mass over Western Oregon and Washington will begin to break down as an upper level low moves through the area. However, before the dry air mass moderates, the upper low will provide the potential for thunderstorm development. Very hot and dry conditions are a potent combination for fires.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of thunderstorms, dry fuels and relatively low humidity create explosive fire growth potential. The Red Flag Warning is in effect from 11:00 a.m. today to 11:00 p.m. Tuesday for thunderstorms and hot and dry conditions.

Friday, August 13, 2010

DNR Warns of Increased Fire Danger


From http://www.tdn.com/

This weekend's high temperatures, low humidity and breezy conditions have prompted the state Department of Natural Resources to ask people to be extra careful with fire, tools and other activities when outdoors west of the Cascade Mountains.

Many Washington counties have fire hazard levels rated "high" to "extreme" this weekend due to dry weather and low moisture levels in grasses, trees and other vegetation. Under these conditions, one spark can lead to a catastrophic wildfire, according to DNR.

In an effort to reduce human-caused wildfires, the DNR issued a statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands, including all forestlands in Washington except for federal lands, from July 15 through Sept. 30. Recreational fires are allowed in approved fire pits at designated campgrounds, although some campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place.

Joe Shramek, manager of DNR's Resource Protection Division, said he's especially concerned about recreational campfires. In recent weeks, the DNR has responded to an unusually high number of unattended campfires that were not completely extinguished and not cool to the touch.

Check local conditions and restrictions by calling 1-800-323-BURN (2876) or visit http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger

The Heat is On!

The National Weather Service in Portland has announced an "Excessive Heat Watch" from Saturday afternoon until Monday evening for our area. High temperatures in the mid to upper 90's can be expected Saturday through Monday with some locations reaching 100 degrees on Sunday or Monday.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

An "Excessive Heat Watch" means that a prolonged period of hot temperatures is possible. The heat may create a dangerous situation in which heat related illnesses are likely. Make sure to stay hydrated and out of the sun during the heat of the day. Never, ever leave children or animals in a closed car as heat stroke can occur in minutes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Alert System for River Levels

The USGS now has a text message and e-mail alerting system for their river gauges. It is available at: http://water.usgs.gov/wateralert/

The WaterAlert system allows you to subscribe to receive information about river gauge heights/flow rates. You can set parameters so that, for example, you can receive notification if a river gauge exceeds a specific gauge height/flow rate.

StreaMail allows you to send an e-mail or text message to streamail@usgs.gov and it will immediately return the height/flow for the river that you specified.

This is a great tool if you live near a local river, as they tend to flood every once in a while.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Check Out Cowlitz County Dive Rescue!

Be sure to take some time to check out the Cowlitz County Dive Rescue's updated webpage here and become a fan on Facebook. The Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team is your only local dive rescue and recovery team. They are a dedicated group of volunteers that work in partnership with the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Emergency Management, and other law enforcement and public safety agencies to respond to water-related incidents in Cowlitz County. They respond to in-water distress calls, recoveries and help provide a first line of defense against accidental drowning. They provide this service for free. It's not their job, they do it because they care.

The Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team is also called upon when items become lost in the water or evidence must be recovered from our waterways to help solve crimes. They have training in crime scene preservation and recovery.

All of the services of the team are rendered on a 100% volunteer basis. They are all trained to professional, public-safety diving levels and work diligently to train as often as possible. This can be difficult when volunteer members must provide their own vehicles, dive gear and pay for their own training.

In 2009 alone, they responded to over 20 emergency calls and logged nearly 400 hours of mission time, with 400 hours of training time. Dives account for 35% of all requests for emergency management volunteers. In short, they are the smallest team that takes on the most dangerous and costly missions.

The funding for the team comes mostly from small government grants and donations from local businesses and individuals. The Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team would greatly appreciate your support by making a donation or becoming a sponsor of the team. As they are a non-profit entity, all donations are tax-deductible and a receipt will be issued to you upon request. Checks can be sent to Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Association c/0 Cowlitz County DEM, 312 SW First Ave, Kelso, WA (make checks payable to Cowlitz County Dive Rescue) or you can donate online by clicking here with most major credit cards or a PayPal account.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Want to Help Build a Better Cowlitz County?

The Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan is in the process of being updated and retooled. The purpose of the Plan is to manage the County's growth in an orderly, positive, and constructive fashion. Do you have an opinion on what you'd like to see happen in the county in the future? What are your priorities for the next generation of Cowlitz County residents? Take a few minutes to fill out this survey by clicking here and make your voice heard! To read the current Comprehensive Plan, click here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reporting Terrorism--What To Watch Out For

Info courtesy of Channing-Bete Company

Reporting terrorist threats is an important part of Homeland Security. Terrorists try to promote their beliefs by threatening and committing violence, disrupting daily life and creating uncertainty, panic and fear. Our government is working hard to defend our homeland by preventing and responding to terrorism threats and by bringing the people behind them to justice. You can help defend our country too! Through vigilance and common sense, you can make a difference--by reporting suspicious activities and materials to the proper authorities.

Targets of terrorism include--

Symbols of a nation, city or institution:
* government buildings
* financial districts
* major monuments
* tourist attractions
* other landmarks
Utilities
* power plants
* water supplies
Transportation systems
* airports or airplanes
* public transit
* bridges
Public safety areas
* hospitals
* police stations
* fire stations
* military bases
Communications systems
* phone services
* internet networks
* mail delivery service

Be aware of strange behavior--but don't take matters into your own hands. Alert your supervisor, or the police at once if a person:

*Seems to be hiding something such as a package or a weapon

*Tries to enter a facility or use a vehicle without the required credentials

*Seeks access to restricted areas or supplies (for example: water wells at food processing plants, municipal reservoirs, chemicals, fertilizers or other hazardous materials)

*Hangs around a facility or drives past it several times

*Leaves a possession such as a briefcase, suitcase or backpack in a place that might be a target.

If you are interested in learning more join us for an informative class all about Terrorism Awareness and Prevention. The class is taught by former Homeland Security Consultant and current Longview Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Taylor and will cover such topics as: What is terrorism, international and domestic terrorism, how to report suspected activity and how to keep your community safe. This course is designed to provide a basic awareness of terrorist activities on an international and local level. The course is free and open to the public. The class will be held on Wednesday,August 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Administration Building, 207 N. 4th Avenue in Kelso. If you are interested in attending, please email DEM@co.cowlitz.wa.us or call us at (360) 577-3130.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's National Night Out!

From Katu.com
PORTLAND, Ore. – Neighborhoods across the nation will be taking a "National Night Out" on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The goal? To strengthen neighborhood spirit and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back.

The Department of Emergency Management will be at Tam O'Shanter Park in Kelso tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. along with several other agencies. Join us for free activities, games, prizes and refreshments!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Red Cross is on the move!

The sale of the Red Cross building at 1265 14th Avenue has been finalized. The group is currently searching for smaller and more economical facility. They are in the process of downsizing to meet the news of the new facility and will be having a sale this Friday, July 30th, from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Everyone is invited so, please stop by and bring your pick-up truck. They have file cabinets, office supplies, and much, much more.

If you have any questions please call Melissa Mullins at (360) 430-7715 or Julia Bishop at (360) 270-9227.

Office Supply Sale
Friday, July 30, 2010
9:00am - 3:00pm
American Red Cross
1265 14th Ave
Longview, WA 98632

Monday, July 26, 2010

Multiple Tragedies Highlight Local Water Dangers

This article from KATU.com lists the various water-related accidents that occurred over the weekend, including one in the Toutle River on Saturday. The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Emergency Management encourages people of ALL ages to wear a life jacket when enjoying our local lakes and rivers.


Make Water Safety Your Priority

*Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

*Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!

*Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.

*Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.


*Have children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.

*Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.

*If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.

*Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

Is It Possible to Predict an Earthquake?


Not yet, but scientists are much closer to identifying patterns and improving earthquake "forecasts." Check out this article from the LA Times about earthquake patterns and what it could mean for the Northwest.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Talley Way On-Ramp Closure Notice

From www.tdn.com

The on-ramp from Talley Way to westbound Tennant Way (SR 432) will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday and Friday nights so crews can finish work on a new, safer on-ramp, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.

The new SR 432 on-ramp provides a longer merging distance and more gradual curve than the existing ramp. During the shutdown of the old ramp, workers must build an embankment, install utilities and lay fresh asphalt.

This work is part of the $35 million I-5, SR 432 Talley Way Interchange project, which remains on track for completion in 2012, according to WSDOT.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kalama River Road Closed at Summers Creek

The Cowlitz County Department of Public Works will close Kalama River Road at milepost 14.16 (Summers Creek) to all traffic beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, July 19th.

The road will be closed for approximately four months to allow for the construction of a new permanent bridge that will span Summers Creek. The new bridge will replace a culvert structure that was destroyed in the January 2009 flood event.

A detour around the road closure has been established utilizing the Weyerhaeuser 6000 Road. The detour route will be clearly marked for motorists traveling through the area. Those with questions are encouraged to contact the Department of Public Works at (360) 577-3030.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Seattle to Portland Bike Race this Weekend

From http://www.tdn.com/

Drivers crossing the Lewis and Clark Bridge should expect delays up to 20 minutes Sunday for cyclists riding in the Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, according to the Washington Department of Transportation.

Washington State Patrol troopers and other flaggers will stop southbound traffic over the bridge in 15-minute intervals from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to allow cyclists to pass.

Flaggers will also be on hand Sunday at West Side Highway at Castle Rock, Lexington and Longview to direct traffic.

Organizers expect about 10,000 cyclists for the 200-mile Seattle-to-Portland ride, which celebrates its 31st anniversary this weekend.

The two-day ride begins Saturday morning at the University of Washington. Most cyclists spend the night in the Centralia-Chehalis area, but some ride far enough the first day to sleep in Longview and Kelso, and some ride the whole distance in one day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

State Burn Ban Begins July 15th




The state Department of Natural Resources Monday announced a statewide burn ban on all state-protected lands starting Thursday, July 15 through Sept 30. The ban covers all forestland in Washington except for federal lands.

"Wildfires are dangerous for people and property and result in large expenditures of public funding that can be avoided through prudent actions to prevent them," Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said in a prepared statement.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning, including currently permitted burns, with three exceptions:

1. Recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds

2. DNR-approved prescribed fire, undertaken to enhance or restore fire-dependent ecosystems and forest health

3. As approved in writing by DNR when there are compelling reasons for an exception.

Use of gas and propane self-contained stoves and barbeques will continue to be allowed during the ban.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life Jacket Coupon

This life jacket information and coupon comes courtesy of Access Washington.

Why should people of all ages wear life jackets?
Drowning is swift, occurring in as little as 30 seconds. In 2006, in Washington State, 123 drownings occurred--involving all age groups (48 of the drownings were 40-64 year olds). Safety is for everyone, and drownings are preventable!

Click here for a 25% off coupon for a life jacket at Big 5 Sporting Goods. The link is under "Current News and Events."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat Advisory Extended

The National Weather Service has extended the current Heat Advisory to 8 PM Friday.

The hottest day will be Thursday when highs will generally be from 95 to 100. Only slightly cooler temps are expected Friday with highs 90 to 95.

A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. Drink plenty of fluids...stay in an air-conditioned room...stay out of the sun...check up on relatives and neighbors...and NEVER leave pets or children confined in the car.

Also, I know it's been a long time since we've seen the sun for a few days in a row...don't stare directly at it because you are confused by its presence.

Cool Places to Go

Don't have A/C? Here are a few places to cool off:

Catlin Rotary Spray Park
106 NW 8th Avenue
Kelso, WA

Longview Public Library
1600 Louisiana Street
Longview, WA

Three Rivers Mall
351 Three Rivers Drive
Kelso, WA

Don't forget, all the movie theaters are air conditioned too!

Summer Safety Tips

From TDN.com
By Barbara LaBoe / The Daily News Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 10:00 pm

Yes, summer is finally here. But officials are warning all residents to be careful as they head to the water to cool off during the next few days.

After a cloudy end to the holiday weekend, temperatures started rising Tuesday and aren't expected to drop for several days. The Weather Service is predicting highs in the low 90s for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and mid 80s at least through Tuesday.

A heat advisory also has been issued for Wednesday and Thursday. Weather officials are warning people to stay indoors if needed, drink plenty of fluids and keep a close eye on children and the elderly.

As the temperature rises officials also know residents will head to lakes and rivers to cool off. After nine drownings in the region last summer, though, they're hoping to make people more aware of the dangers. And they're recommending precautions.

"I'm hoping the lessons that we learned last year are still fresh in people's minds," said Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson, who started a water safety committee after last year's drownings. "We don't want to discourage people from enjoying water-related activities, that's one of the reason we live where we do. All we're asking people to do is to use every safety precaution. ... Because our waters can take anyone at anytime."

"It's really when people become complacent and aren't aware of their surroundings that they get into trouble," added Dave LaFave, Chief of Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue and a member of Nelson's water safety committee.

The group has expanded the number of loaner life jacket boards at Willow Grove and other locations and put up safety reminders in places such as convenience stores.

Fire District 5 in Kalama has analyzed drowning deaths since 2000 and counted 31 among Cowlitz County coroner's records. So far the colder than normal weather has kept many people out of the water but Kalama Chief Vic Leatzow said he's sure there will be a "dramatic" increase in water recreation now that the hot weather is here.

"I'm crossing my fingers that people be careful," Nelson said. "We don't want any repeats from last year."

Water safety tips

Here are some tips to be safe while in the water:

• Wear life jackets.

• Have a flotation device that can be thrown to someone in trouble. Charging in the water to save someone can result in two people in distress.

• Don't drink alcohol, especially to excess. It can lead to dehydration and dull reflexes.

• Don't swim in unauthorized areas. LaFave said having to track someone down who has trespassed on private property slows emergency response because crews don't know where they're going or what kind of access there is.

• Make sure there is an adult designated to watch children in the water so any problem is noticed immediately.

• Never swim alone.

• Get out of the water if a large ship is approaching or has just passed through the area. Large wakes can suck people out too far for them to swim back or can slam them into objects along the shore.

• Be aware that even though it's hot, the rivers and lakes can still be cold