The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

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:  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!


  • 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:

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010


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


· 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.


· 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.


· 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