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


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:

River levels and forecasts can be found at:

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: .
• 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: . 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

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