The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thrive Away from Home Class

All over the world we are seeing people forced to leave their homes because of man made or natural disasters. Many emergencies or disasters occur while people are away from their homes. How can you be ready if you and your family had to evacuate at a moment’s notice?

Marcie Maynes from Simple Safety will be in Longview to instruct a 2-hour Evacuation Preparedness Class called “Thrive Away From Home.” The class will be held at New Life Fellowship Church at 2441 42nd Avenue in Longview from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on December 8th. This class is similar to the Cooking in the Dark class, but focuses on evacuation. For more information, click here.

The class is $5 per person. To register and pay online please click here If you have any questions, please contact our office (577.3130) or a Simple Safety rep at 360.326.8971. Join us for fun, prizes and GREAT info!

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you think might be interested.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soggy Turkey Day

We have been following the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast for both the weather and river levels. It appears that while we will have a rainy Thanksgiving weekend, we should not experience any unusual weather or flooding / high water events. The Cowlitz River at Kelso was forecast to reach flood level today but that forecast now shows the river cresting below flood stage.

The DEM duty officer will be monitoring the weather forecasts and river levels over the weekend and will send out an e-mail notification should things change. We will also post a notice on our Blog and by Twitter if the need arises. You can sign up for both of these notifications by going to our website at:

For those living along the Lewis River below Merwin Dam we have been notified that as of 10:00 AM today PacifiCorp has increased flow from the dam to 16,000 cfs. This is a low level increase and should not cause any problems to residents below the dam.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wind Advisory Remains in Effect

From the National Weather Service:

Strong winds will continue across portions of NW Oregon and SW Washington through early Wednesday morning. The front is expected to shift south and weaken early Wednesday bringing an end to the strong winds.

Wind advisory remains in effect until 10:00 p.m. this evening for the Willamette Valley and Lower Columbia region. Gusty south winds will persist through the evening with south winds 20 to 30 mph with occasional gusts around 40 mph.

Flood Warnings for Naselle & Willapa Rivers

The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for the Naselle and Willapa Rivers. The Cowlitz and Lewis Rivers are still anticipated to remain below flood stage. There is already some minor flooding in the Westover Drive area and will likely be more urban and small stream flooding throughout the day into tomorrow. Forecasters predict another windy day on Wednesday with gusts possibly reaching 60 mph in Western Washington. Keep those umbrellas and flashlights handy!

A Safety Message from William Shatner...and DEM

Captains Log: Stardate 112211. We are entering a precarious phase of heightened kitchen fire danger .....known as "Thanksgiving," a human holiday comprised of .....gratitude, gastronomic revelry and ......napping. Most concerning of all the practice of deep frying large scale poultry ....without benefit of proper technique, personal protective equipment and fire suppression devices. Be safe crew....think...before you fry.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Road Closure and River Conditions Page

Don't forget to check our road closure and river conditions page if the weather gets extra nasty this week. Go to our website and look for the tabs along the left hand side.

Storms a comin'

The Portland National Weather Service is forecasting a large storm to hit our area Tuesday morning bringing high wind and heavy rains. They anticipate it will hit the Lower Columbia area around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning and lasting until Tuesday evening.

Winds are expected to be around 25 mph sustained with gusts of 40-45 at times. With the trees still heavy with leaves combined with winds of this speed, there is a higher than normal chance of downed trees, branches and clogged drains. There is the potential for two to four inches of rain which will likely cause areas of urban and small stream flooding. The storm should head south by Wednesday to annoy the residents of northern California.

As always, we urge people to check their emergency kits and be ready for power outages, localized flooding and disruption to daily routines. If you have questions, please feel free to contact our office.

Friday, November 18, 2011


The following information is the latest from the National Weather Service about the potential for lower elevation snow in Southwest Washington/Portland, OR. As you will note, the forecasters are more confident there will be snow above 1,000' and less confident about a accumulations in the valley but it is best to be prepared.

• SYNOPSIS: A large upper level low pressure system will remain over the Pacific Northwest place through the weekend. This system will usher in a significantly colder air mass with widespread rain and snow showers and quite low snow levels for this time of year. The last disturbance associated with this low will move through southwest Washington and northwest Oregon late tonight and early Saturday.

• PRIMARY AREAS IMPACTED: Coast Range, Cascade Foothills and Cascades. Snow levels 1000 to 1500 feet today, lowering to 500 to 1000 feet later tonight and Saturday morning.


  • Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 5 inches in the Coast Range today and another 2 to 5 inches tonight and early Saturday.

  • Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches in the Cascade Foothills today and another 2 to 5 inches tonight and early Saturday.

  • Additional snow accumulations of 3 to 7 inches in the Cascades today and another 4 to 8 inches tonight and early Saturday.

  • 1 to 2 inch accumulations are possible later tonight and Saturday morning at the higher elevations around the Willamette Valley and the southwest Washington interior valleys, such as the West Hills near Portland and the hills above Hockinson, Washington. The snow may even mix down to even lower elevations briefly early Saturday with a light dusting as the coldest air is over the area and the disturbance mentioned above moves across the area.

  • Travel may become hazardous with snow covered roads or icy conditions.

  • Hikers, hunters and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts should prepare for winter weather.

• TIMING: Through early Saturday morning (Nov 18-19). Snow potential decreases by Saturday afternoon as moisture becomes limited and the last disturbance moves east.

• FORECAST CONFIDENCE: High confidence in snow in the Coast Range, Foothills and Cascades. Low to moderate confidence in precipitation type for valley locations and the Gorge. Some confidence in accumulations closer to 1000 feet.

• UNCERTAINTIES: Primary uncertainty is snow level. Brief periods of snow or rain mixed with snow may reach near the valley floor in heavier showers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weather Alert

Below is a weather bulletin from the National Weather Service (NWS) we received this morning. We have put it into synopsis form below:

Wednesday: Windy with warmer (52) temperatures and heavy rain
Thursday: Heavy rain (1”) with colder temperatures
Friday: Colder temperatures with possible snow in the mountains and foot hills. Snow levels may drop to 1,000 feet over the weekend with highs in the low 40’s.

Read the full weather statement for all the details. Keep an eye on the weather and be ready for stormy weather. Go to the NWS website for further information.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Emergency Alert System has been Tested--What Next?

From the Federal Emergency Management Agency Blog

The Emergency Alert System Has Been Tested – What Next?
By: Damon Penn, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs

After years of hard work with all of our partners, and months of providing updates on this blog, today, FEMA, the FCC, NOAA and communications service providers, and many others administered our first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. We are currently collecting data about the initial results, and it will take the test’s participants several weeks to send us the full results of their tests.

As we have been explaining throughout this process, this initial test was the first time we have gotten a sense of the reach and scope of this technology. It was our opportunity to get a sense of what worked, what didn’t and additional improvements that need to be made to the system as we move forward. It’s only through comprehensively testing, analyzing, and improving these technologies that we can ensure the most effective and reliable emergency alert and warning systems available at a moment’s notice in a time of real national emergency.

As we often say here at FEMA, we’re just one part of a much, much larger team. To prepare for this test FEMA worked closely with state and local officials, the broadcast community, as well as nongovernmental organizations including the disability and faith-based communities.

So now that the test has occurred, we know many of you may be wondering…what next?

Well, first, we’ll be spending the next few weeks gathering test result data from the test’s participants, and feedback from all of our stakeholders. Under the FCC’s rules, test participants have 45 days from the date of the test to analyze their data and provide a full report to the FCC on the scope and reach of the test. In the meantime, FEMA is also interested in hearing from any stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test worked and ways we can continue to improve it. We encourage you to email us at with any tips, suggestions or input you may have.

And looking ahead, this test was just the beginning of our much larger efforts to strengthen and upgrade our nation’s public alert and warning system.

As we work to build a more modern system, we will continue to test the other newer technologies and communications tools that are also going to be part of our public alert and warning networks, such as cell phones, smart phones, the internet and social media networks.

So to all of our partners, including the public, we want to thank you for your role in helping make this test happen. We look forward to working with all of you to incorporate the lessons learned from this test as we keep working a robust, resilient, and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people.

A Few Bugs to Work Out with EAS

At 11:00 a.m., we observed the national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Here inside the Emergency Operations Center, we watched the test on TV, through the NOAA radio and regular radio on a Portland station. We saw the video screen message on KGW; however, there was no audio alert as promised. It appears there was no interruption of KOIN, NW Cable News or radio for this national test.

We want to share with you that the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is tested successfully every month in this region by local emergency management agencies and the National Weather Service for weather-based incidents. We have local confidence in this system AND it is only one of the methods that we use to share information with the citizens of our community.

We use the following systems to share information regularly with the public:
Flash Alert News ( which sends our press releases to the news media (and the general public can subscribe to receive press releases directly)
Emergency Alert System (the system tested today) which targets alerts over radio and television stations
Community Notification System (which is our phone-based out-dial system for targeted geographic-based alerts).
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Blog).

Remember, we exercise and test for a reason which is to find out if systems work BEFORE the disaster strikes. So, while we may not understand why or how today’s EAS system malfunctioned, there are many lessons being learned. Please share this with your stakeholders and community members so that this message gets out.

As always, if you have any questions about emergency response plans here in Cowlitz County, we are happy to assist and share our information with you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ham Exam

Note: Walk-ins No Longer Allowed - Pre-Registration Required (See Details Below)
• LCARA Clubhouse: 966 Lone Oak Rd., Longview WA
• 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
• Exam Fee: $15.00 (Cash Only!)
• First-time license or upgrades: Technician, General and Extra class exams will be given.
• Bring original and photocopy of radio license, original and photocopies of pending CSCEs, picture ID, and a calculator
• Pre-registration required. Contact Judi, K7HRW, at for information or to register.
• Pre-exam study online:
(You have to sign up for a free account to access the practice exams.)
• Free Refreshments!

Skywarn Weather Spotter Training

Don't forget, there will be a FREE Skywarn Weather Spotter Training on November 15th. The National Weather Services teaches this class periodically to people with an interest in severe weather spotting. The Skywarn program is voluntary, you will be trained on weather events similar to those listed in the Severe Weather Spotter Guide, and you may have the opportunity to call in several times a month depending on the weather pattern in your area.

The National Weather Service may also call you for "ground truth" as to what is actually happening near your house. Most likely their call would be to confirm an element of potentially severe thunderstorms, like large hail, or damaging wind. Other calls may be to verify heavy snowfall or peak wind speed associated with large winter storms.

The class will be held in Kelso on Tuesday, November 15th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Search & Rescue Rizad Building at 1800 Western Lane.
To register for the Cowlitz County class, please call 577-3130 or email

This Is Only A Test...

This Wednesday, November 9th, at 11:00 a.m. PST, there will be a national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). This is the alert & warning system which sends tones and an emergency message to radio and television stations.

Here are some key things that you should be aware of:

• This test is expected to last 30 seconds despite initial reports which indicated that it would last as long as 3.5 minutes.
• Some cable television companies expect this test to disrupt programming. Comcast customers can find helpful information at this website:
• Some people may not see a familiar banner or crawl across their television screens depending on the technology being used. Some people may only hear a voice during the test that says this is a test.
• FEMA has released a good video about this test at
• We want to remind everyone not to call 9-1-1 during this test or broadcast.

Please know that this EAS Alert & Warning system is different than our phone-based notification system. If you have not registered your VOiP or mobile phone to receive direct alerts from Cowlitz Co Emergency Management, based on your geographic address, please go to our website to sign up your phone. Look for the “Alert Cowlitz County” button on the left side of the page.

As always, Cowlitz County Emergency Management will be paying special attention during this national test to how it affects our local community. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Change Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks

Yep, it's that time of year again. When you set your clocks back on Sunday, don't forget to change the batteries in your smoke detector and check the expiration dates on your stored food, water and any medications you may have in your kit.

Don't wait until after your food and water expires and then throw it away. Check on stuff before it expires and then use it! Make a family indoor camping night---turn off all the lights and actually use your emergency supplies. It's not only a good way to use up food and water that's nearing its expiration date, it's also a good time to go over emergency plans and remember how to use emergency supplies. Plus, it's free family fun! Well, if you have teenagers, the fun level might be debatable.

So, not only do you get to score another hour of sleep (woo hoo!), you get a chance to make sure your kit is ready to go. It's also a great deal of fun to sing Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" as you're changing your clocks. What? Just me? Ok.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More Info on National EAS Test

For more information on the National EAS test, click here to check out this blog post from our friends at CRESA.