The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Small Quakes Rattle Mt. St. Helens

A swarm of small earthquakes shook Mt. St. Helens this weekend. For more details check the Daily News article here. According to seismologists, the earthquakes are not from volcanic activity, but from shifting faults.
I am not amused by either option and would advise Mt. St. Helens to knock it off as I am watching it. Always watching....

Gift Alert!

Show your honey just how much you care this Valentine’s Day! Flowers die, chocolate goes straight to your hips, but an emergency preparedness kit is forever, Well, not forever, but it’s much more practical. Plus, nothing says love like making sure your sweet cheeks is prepared for a disaster!
Check out this sweet survival kit in a sardine can (sardines not included). It's not the most robust kit, but it's in a sardine can, how cool is that? You can learn more about this quirky little kit by clicking here or visiting the fine folks at

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Two Things Your Emergency Kit Needs RIGHT NOW!

You are going to need a way to cook your meals without modern appliances. This BioLite stove not only uses wood for fuel, it also has the added benefit of a thermoelectric generator that will turn the heat from the flame into electricity that can be transferred to your portable gadgets via a USB port. That's perfect for small radios, GPS units or the iPod you filled with songs from Glee, just before you realized that it would be the only music you would listen to for the rest of your life. $80.

Tactical bacon

Now that you have a means of cooking your food quickly, you are going to need to stock up on non-perishable food items like this "tactical" canned bacon. It lasts for 10 years in the can and holds up to 18 servings. Let's face it, if most of us were given a choice to bring just one type of food along into the post-apocalyptic living hell that will be Earth, bacon would probably be it. $15.99 — ThinkGeek via Nerd Approved

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gluten-Free Emergency Preparedness

From CRESA blog:

In the world of emergency management, we often encourage folks to store food for disasters, but rarely do we see information for specific food allergies.

This past summer, the Gluten-Free Insider wrote an excellent blog post on preparing for emergencies from a gluten-free perspective.

In their article, it is recommended to consider:

•Dehydrating food as this allows you to control the content and ensure it is gluten-free.
•Canned meats, fish & beans.
•Avoiding prepared, canned meals as they are often mostly water and less nutrient-dense.
•Boil in bag meals and meal replacement beverages can also be an option if they are available.
•Dried meats and fruit (like low-sodium jerky or fruit leather) You could make your own beef jerky and fruit leathers to save money and ensure they are gluten free. Here are some Jerky Tips & Recipes.
•Gluten free energy/protein bars are quite widely available.
•Rice is often suggested as a good staple for a gluten free emergency kit. Quinoa is better from a nutrient standpoint, it cooks quickly and can be made in a variety of ways (with cinnamon & sugar or cayenne, garlic & beef jerky). Boil in bag rice is very convenient. Brown rice is better nutritionally, but takes a lot of time and fuel to cook.
• suggests packing a small 3 cup rice cooker but you may be without power so you may want to consider a small single burner camp stove or sterno stove with extra fuel. You can even make your own sterno stove. Make sure you have adequate ventilation when cooking with any kind of combustible fuel.
•Dry soup or bouillon cubes can be a good way to add flavor to your emergency meals.
•Pepper, salt, sugar, other spices such as garlic, cayenne, chili, cinnamon. While you don’t need these, they can help make your rations taste a whole lot better.
•Coffee, tea, chocolate mix, powdered milk.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Department of Homeland Security Ditches "Rainbow of Doom"


Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to announce tomorrow that the color-coded threat advisory system, launched after the 9/11 attacks but now more or less discarded, will be formally scrapped this spring.

DHS has for the past several months moved away from the threat system. The threat level was not changed, for example, after the underwear bombing attempt on Christmas Day 2009, after the car bomb attempt last year in Times Square, or when package bombs were detected on cargo flights last fall.

Instead, DHS has more directly communicated intelligence directly to those considered most likely to need it and has made information public without resorting to changing the threat level.

The system was frequently used after its inception, with the threat level changed 16 times after it was introducted in 2002.

But no changes have been made to the threat level in any sector since August 2006.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Natural Gas Issues in Woodland

We have received report of an oversaturation of odorant in natural gaslines from Cascade Natural Gas. This is non-toxic odorant only. Workers are onscene working on the issues and more specialists are enroute to work on the issue. The smell is very strong and residents are being urged to stay out of the area if you have breathing difficulties.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Flood Watch Cancelled for Cowlitz River at Kelso

The Cowlitz River at Kelso has crested and will continue to drop throughout the day. Today's weather should remain mild and wet, but not monsoon-ish. Yay!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cowlitz County Weather Update

Flood watch is cancelled for NW Oregon and SW Washington at 4:01 PM on January 16th:

Rainfall rates are diminishing this afternoon as the frontal system responsible for the heavy rains slowly tracks to the southwest. Therefore the flood watch for NW Oregon and SW Washington has been cancelled. A number of rivers remain, or are forecast, to go above flood stage (including the Cowlitz – see below). Please see the latest flood warning statements for specific information on these rivers.


Flood warning issued for Cowlitz River at 12:05 PM on January 16th still in effect:

* Flood warning for the Cowlitz River at Kelso from this evening to late Monday night or until the warning is cancelled.

* At 12 PM Sunday the river stage was at 20.4 feet.

* Flood state is 21.5 feet.

* Minor flooding is forecast.

* Forecast: This river is forecast to rise above flood stage around 7 PM Sunday and is expected to crest near 22.0 feet Monday morning.

* Impact: Above 21.5 feet flood of several low lying and secondary roads beings including the Cowlitz Gardens neighborhood along with flood of pasture and lowlands upstream of Kelso.

For additional weather and river information visit the NWS website at: WWW.WEATHER.GOV/PORTLAND

Flood Watch Cancelled for most of SW Washington

The National Weather Service in Portland has cancelled their flood watch for most of our area due to diminishing rainfall as the storm system moves to the southeast. We are still continuing to monitor the situation on Cowlitz River at Kelso and will update information as needed.

How to Fill a Sandbag

If you need information on how to fill sandbags, check out this link from the US Army Corps of Engineers information page.

**Flood Warning Issued for Cowlitz River at Kelso

The National Weather Service in Portland has just issued a Flood Warning for the Cowlitz River at Kelso. At noon the river level was 20.4 feet, flood stage is 21.5 feet. The river is expected to rise above flood stage around 7:00 p.m. tonight and should crest near 22 feet on Monday morning. This means flooding of several low-lying roads and the Cowlitz Gardens neighborhood. Be sure to check here for the latest road closures. For information about flood preparedness, click here.

Updated River Levels

The Columbia River at Longview is expected to crest well under flood stage.
The Cowlitz River at Castle Rock is still expected to crest under flood stage this afternoon.
The Cowlitz River at Kelso is still expected to crest a bit above flood stage this afternoon.
Pacificorps is releasing water into Lewis River, the amount of water is taken into consideration when generating a forecast and is still at this time anticipated to crest below flood stage.
The Coweeman River, while still under flood stage, seems to be causing some problems near Brookhollow RV Park and Allen Street in Kelso.
We don't have a lot of information on the Kalama River at this time, but will share information as we get it.

Road Closures

For the latest road closures, check out our road closure page by clicking here. Be sure to hit "refresh" to get the most recent information.

Coweeman River

Our office spoke to the Cowlitz Diking District Supervisor regarding the Coweeman River and it appears to be holding steady at 10 3/4 feet, but appears to be threatening the Brookhollow RV Park area. At this time, park residents are not being evacuated, but of course, may leave if they feel uncomfortable.

Updated Forecast

The National Weather Service expects that we'll still see heavy rains in Cowlitz County for another 3-4 hours. After that, it should lessen but streams may still rise. There is an Urban Stream and Flood Advisory for Minor Flooding for our area until 1215 today. That means that you can expect small streams to continue to rise with localized rural and urban flooding possible. Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause ponding of water on highways, streets and underpasses, in urban areas with poor or overwhelmed drainage and will also cause elevated levels on small creeks and streams. The National Weather Service warns that in hilly terrain there are hundreds of low water crossings which are potentially dangerous in heavy rain. Do not attempt to travel across flooded roads. Instead, find alternative routes. It takes only a few inches of swiftly flowing water to carry vehicles away.

Pacificorps has released water twice into the Lewis River and the affected lowland homeowners have been notified. The Cowlitz River at Castle Rock is now anticipated to crest below flood stage this evening. The Cowlitz River at Kelso is still anticipated to crest a little above flood stage.

Sandbags Available

Sandbags are available to Kelso residents at the Kelso City Shop on Parrott Way. Each person is allowed 25 sandbags, plus sand. Must bring photo ID to prove Kelso residency and your own shovel.

Sandbags and sand are also available at the Cowlitz County Public Works shop on Talley Way. Bring your own shovel.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Latest River Levels

The Portland National Weather Service has issued new hydrograph predictions for river levels in Cowlitz County. According to their latest data, they anticipate that the Cowlitz River at Castle Rock will reach flood stage sometime Sunday evening if the steady rains continue. Flood stage is 48 feet and the river is expected to crest at 48.23 ft. This means there is the potential for flooding on several roads and low-lying agricultural areas, all the usual suspects. The Cowlitz River at Kelso will reach flood stage Sunday evening. Flood stage in Kelso is 21.5 ft and the river is expected to crest at 21.78 feet. This means flooding of low-lying roads, Cowlitz Gardens area and lowlands upstream. At this time the Lewis River at Woodland does not appear to be near flood stage. We do not have info on the Kalama or Coweeman Rivers at this time.

Flood Watch Upgraded to Advisory

A flood advisory is now in effect for Cowlitz County until noon tomorrow. The Portland National Weather Service expects light urban and small stream flooding to occur in areas of poor drainage in the south part of Cowlitz County. Rain will continue to fall steadily thorough out the night and into tomorrow. They also advise that landslides and debris flows are possible throughout this event. Structures and roads located below steep slopes, in canyons and near the mouths of canyons may be at risk from rapidly moving landslides. We will monitor later forecasts and watch for a flood warning. At this time, no rivers in Cowlitz County are above flood stage. Another forecast will be issued at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Soggy Weekend Coming Up

Following a briefing from the National Weather Service, our holiday weekend looks to be warm and wet.

A Flood Watch (possible flooding) has been issued for most of the surrounding areas, including Cowlitz County, although no rivers are currently forecasted to be above flood stage in Cowlitz County.

Heavy Rains are expected here in the interior valleys, could be as high as 1.5 - 3 inches possible. The heaviest rains are forecasted for Sunday when a cold front moves in, although significant rain is expected for the whole period of Saturday – Monday. Freezing levels will rise to at least 7,000-9,000 feet, melting off any remaining lower elevation snow.

There is always potential for damages due to heavy rains with rising rivers and creek levels, including landslides and debris flow. In addition, heavy rains can make driving more treacherous.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Freezing Rain Expected Tuesday

The National Weather Service has just conducted a briefing with Emergency Management, the following is a synopsis:
  • Mid-afternoon on Tuesday expect snow to start with accumulations of up to one inch
  • Snow will change to freezing rain Tuesday evening – expect .30 inches of ice to accumulate.
  • Temperatures will rise with freezing rain switching over to rain after midnight
  • The snow and ice should be gone by Wednesday morning.

If you are commuting to other areas:

• High Avalanche Danger in Cascades (starting Tues night)
• Expect Winter driving conditions Tues afternoon / night

Latest Forecast and Winter Storm Watch

Below is the latest forecast for Kelso for the next couple of days from the National Weather Service (NWS).  The NWS has issued a winter storm watch for snow and freezing rain from Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday morning.


The NWS is hosting a weather briefing early this afternoon to discuss the storm.  DEM will distribute more information after the briefing before 3:00.


Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 37. East wind around 6 mph.

Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 24. East wind between 7 and 10 mph.

Tuesday: Snow likely, mainly after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 35. East southeast wind between 10 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Tuesday Night: Snow before 1am, then rain. Snow level rising to 5500 feet after midnight. Low around 29. Southeast wind between 14 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Wednesday: Rain. High near 39. Southeast wind between 14 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Wednesday Night: Rain. Low around 35. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Thursday: Rain. High near 40. Chance of precipitation is 80%.


For more information go to the NWS website at: 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is Your Snow Shovel Ready?

National Weather Service - Portland has issued a Special Weather Statement:

... A significant snowfall likely next week in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon...

Colder air will filter in over the Pacific northwest Sunday and Monday... setting the stage for the possibility of a winter storm over northwest Oregon and southwest Washington Tuesday night through Wednesday.
  • At this time it appears likely that snow will develop over much of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington Tuesday night. As is often the case for winter storms in the region... there is a considerable amount of uncertainty regarding how long the snow will last before potentially changing over to freezing rain and rain.
  • The best guess is for precipitation to intensify on Wednesday... but for the rain snow line to lift north to near the Portland Metro area by Wednesday afternoon.
  • In The Gorge and Hood River Valley precipitation is likely to remain snow or freezing rain through Wednesday night.
Persons in or traveling through northwest Oregon and southwest Washington should be prepared for the possibility of a winter storm this coming week

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snow? Rain? Freezing Rain?

National Weather Service just finished briefing local jurisdictions on the forecast for the next few days. In a nutshell:

• Cold air will be taking over during the weekend.
• Potential for some low elevation snow (below 1,000’) Sat night/Sun morning. Very little accumulation expected.
• Significant moisture coming in Tuesday/Wednesday.
• Models are showing many different scenarios. Depending on where the temperatures collide with the moisture, it could create rain, snow, or freezing rain for Tuesday/Wednesday. It is looking fairly certain that there will be significant precipitation but the uncertainly is what kind of precipitation.

The models that NWS uses to forecast show two different scenarios – one would bring significant snow accumulation to valley floor and the other would include more of a rain/freezing rain event, depending on where Mother Nature draws the magic line. Regardless of which scenario plays out, it’s obvious that the forecast should be watched closely and given consideration for any plans next week.

Stay tuned....

Resolve to Be Ready in 2011!

Keeping New Year's resolutions can be hard (trust me, I'm only 6 days into it and I've already wavered on my "less sugar in 2011" stance--stupid Sour Patch kids and their siren song of deliciousness...) Anyway, emergency preparedness is one resolution that can be easy to keep by starting out with these three steps:

1. Make a Family Emergency Plan
2. Get an Emergency Supply Kit
3. Be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur in your area.

There is a fantastic template for making a simple family emergency plan at Click here for the template. Take a few minutes to fill out and print this plan. You'll be amazed how good you feel! Not quite as good as going on a Sour Patch kid bender, but close.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Transition to Rain

The transition from frigid temperatures to a warmer, wetter system over Southwest Washington will likely lead to a period of mixed winter precipitation Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Current models indicate the precipitation will briefly begin as snow and transition to rain by morning. Freezing rain is looking less likely, although it cannot be ruled out completely. The official forecast is:

Tonight: A slight chance of rain, snow, and freezing rain before 10pm, then rain likely, possibly mixed with freezing rain. Cloudy, with a steady temperature around 34. South wind between 9 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Wednesday: Rain. High near 42. South wind between 15 and 17 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Time to update those first aid skills?

The SW Washington Red Cross in conjunction with the Longview Parks and Recreation Dept will be offering the following CPR and First Aid Classes coming up. All classes will be held in the Parks and Rec Building at 2920 Douglas Street in Longview.

Adult CPR
5:30-9:00 p.m. January 12th; receive hands-on skills training and learn how to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies in adults. The class is $40, or you can sign up for the First Aid class at the same time and pay $60 for both.

Adult CPR Review
6:00-8:30 p.m. January 20th; receive hands-on skills training. This class reviews and prepares students to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies. This is an annual recertification class. You must have current Adult CPR certification. The class is $35, plus $3 for course book, if needed.

First Aid Basics
6:00-10:00 p.m. January 18th; learn the skills needed to prevent, recognize and provide basic care for injuries and sudden illnesses until advanced medical personnel arrive. This course covers first aid in an approach that complements adult learning styles, featuring hands-on practice and real-life scenarios. The class is $35 or you can sign up for CPR at the same time and pay $60 for both classes.

Adult, Child and Infant CPR
5:30-10:00 p.m. January 12th; designed for childcare providers, teachers, parents and others who care for children. Learn how to recognize and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies in infants and children up to 12 years old. This class is $50.

Adult, Child and Infant CPR Review
6:00-9:00 p.m. January 20th; this class is a review designed for day care providers as an annual recertification. Students must have valid Adult, Child and Infant CPR certification. Course is $45, plus $3 for course book, if needed.

Adult, Child and Infant CPR with First Aid
9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. January 15th; this class combines CPR with First Aid training. Students will learn how to recognize and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies in infants, children and adults; excellent class for childcare providers. $65.

Bloodborne Pathogens Awareness
5:00-7:00 p.m. January 17th; for individuals who may be exposed to blood; covers bloodborne pathogens only and meets OSHA guidelines, $30.

HIV Awareness
7:00-9:00 p.m. January 17th; designed for individuals who may be exposed to blood and other bodily fluids; covers HIV only; meets OSHA guidelines; $30.

Bloodborne Pathogen and HIV Awareness Modules
5:00-9:00 p.m. January 17th; for individuals who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids; covers bloodborne pathogens and HIV; meets the Washington state license requirements and OSHA guidelines; $40.

To register for these classes, please call Longview Parks and Recreation Dept. at (360) 442-5400. Online training CPR/AED, First Aid and health care providers classes are available at

Make Volunteering Your Resolution!

If you are looking for a positive and challenging volunteer opportunity, Cowlitz County Search & Rescue (SAR) is looking for volunteers to join their team. The SAR team helps the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies, with searches for lost persons, evidence searches, and other emergency responses / disasters.

The SAR team provides training and certification for new volunteers. There is a monthly time commitment to participate with the team. There will be an orientation meeting on Saturday, January 15, 2011 in Kelso.
For more information please call and RSVP with Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management at 360-577-3130.