The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy 312th Anniversary!

Yesterday was the 312th anniversary of the last great Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake that hit the Pacific NW. The earthquake has been estimated at around a 9.0 after extensive research. Why is this important? Here are a few articles to peruse to learn more:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Flood Watch Cancelled

Go back to your lives, good citizens. The Flood Watch is now cancelled.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

High Rivers

From the PDX Weather Service

Flood watch remains in effect through Wednesday evening for rivers and creeks in NW Oregon and SW Washington

* Heavy rain and snow melt are expected to cause rivers and creeks to rise this afternoon and evening and remain elevated through Wednesday. One to three inches of rain expected, with the possibility of three to five inches.

* Minor flooding is possible on several rivers and creeks.

* A "Flood Watch" means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. Landslides and debris flows are possible during this flood event.

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.

For entire forecast, visit their website here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weather Update

The Weather Service just held a briefing about the heavy rain storm forecasted for tomorrow and Wednesday. The presentation is attached. Here’s a summary:

• A rainy weather system will come onshore tomorrow morning bringing heavy precipitation to the area on Tuesday and Wednesday.
• The focus of the rain will initially be Northwest OR / Southwest WA, starting tomorrow morning. It will move south throughout the day.
• This event will not be as severe in duration or focus as the rain storm last Wednesday and Thursday. They forecast .75 – 1.5” of rain in the inland valleys, with another .5 – 1.0” Wednesday into Thursday.
• At this point, no rivers in Cowlitz County are expected to flood. The primary rivers of concern are Coastal/Coast Range rivers, Willamette tributaries, and the mainstem Willamette.
• It is possible that the storm may stall at some point tomorrow, but there is no way to know where. If that happens, the unfortunate recipient could receive a significant amount of rain in a very short time.
• The Columbia River Gorge (for any travelers) is definitely a place to avoid. Snow, freezing rain and wind are in store for Cascade Locks east.

We will monitor this storm event and update you if there are substantial changes to the forecast.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Livin' on the Edge

Following a briefing from the Portland National Weather Service (NWS), it appears that Cowlitz County is on the outer edge of a High Wind Advisory. They are predicting winds of 25-35 mph with gusts of 50 mph, though it will likely be less in our area and concentrated further southwest. The advisory is beginning at 10:00 p.m. Friday night until 10:00 a.m. Saturday. The freezing level should drop which should minimize flooding concerns.

So far, whether through happenstance, providence or voodoo, we have been shielded from the brunt of Mother Nature's machinations. No, I didn't get a thesaurus for Christmas. Why do you ask? Anyway, there is another storm system following behind the current one which should arrive around Tuesday. NWS is watching this storm pattern and we will know more on Monday. Keep those umbrellas and flashlights handy!

Carbon Monoxide Dangers

This info is from Pierce County Emergency Management. While they are experiencing much worse weather than we are, this is still a good reminder of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

As power outages and falling temperatures continue in Pierce County, the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning increases. Carbon monoxide is caused by burning almost anything inside your house. It is a colorless, odorless gas which can go undetected until it is too late. It is important to be aware of the risk of serious injury or possible death from carbon monoxide poisoning. If your home is without power, consider going to a family or friends house, the mall, movie theater, or even a warming center.

To avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning, follow these tips:

• DO NOT burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages, or mobile homes.
• DO NOT burn charcoal in the fireplace in your home.
• DO NOT use any gasoline-powered equipment indoors.
• DO NOT use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
• DO NOT idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.
• DO NOT sleep in a room while using an unvented kerosene heater.

Always DO these things:
• Make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.
• Have oil and gas appliances, fireplaces and wood stoves checked every year by a trained professional.
• Every home should have a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm, but this should not replace the other prevention steps.
What should you do if you think someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide?
• Move the person to a place with fresh air immediately.
• Call 911 if the person has lost consciousness (fainted or passed out).
• If the person did not lose consciousness take the person to an emergency room and tell them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

Additional information can be viewed on the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department website in Spanish, Russian, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Latest Weather Briefing Information

The National Weather Service (NWS) held a weather briefing this afternoon to discuss heavy rain and potential flooding. The good news is that Cowlitz County and SW Washington may escape high river levels but Oregon will not. There is a flood watch for our county as there may be impacts due to high creeks, streams and overfull culverts. None of the major rivers are expected to exceed their banks or reach flood stage.

So the forecast is there will be rain and strong winds over the next few days. See below for the most recent forecast.

Thursday Afternoon: Rain. High near 43. Calm wind. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Thursday night: Rain. Low around 35. Calm wind becoming south southeast between 5 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Friday: Rain. High near 45. South southeast wind between 8 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Friday Night: Rain. Low around 40. South wind between 14 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

Saturday: Rain. High near 46. South southwest wind between 8 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Saturday Night: Rain. Low around 37. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Sunday: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 43. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Sunday Night: Rain. Cloudy, with a low around 37.
See the attached slides from the weather briefing for further details.

More storms on the horizon for next week. Check the NWS website regularly for additional information:

The road closure page is up and running for those Cowlitz County roads impacted by the weather. Go to: for details.

Note: For those who have been checking the Cowlitz River gauge near Kelso it is back in service. NWS technicians repaired a modem at the Hall of Justice this morning.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beware of Flooding Issues as Snow Melts

Cowlitz County is currently included in a Flood Watch per the National Weather Service, although there are no specific rivers of concern listed within our County. Per NWS:

*Heavy rain and snowmelt is causing sharp rises on several rivers and additional 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected in the Coast Range and in the Cascades below 3,000 feet.

* Minor flooding is possible on faster responding rivers as early as this afternoon, with slower responding rivers cresting Thursday and Friday. Street flooding and ponding is also a possibility with the slushy snow and heavy rain.

With very little precise information, we suggest keeping an eye on the rivers and streams that are near you, following weather forecasts closely and be prepared for a wet transition from our recent snow event. Websites of interest:

National Weather Service:
River Forecast Center:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Looking Ahead....

Latest from NWS regarding later this week:

Heavy precipitation later this week may bring rapid rises to rivers and streams in NW Oregon and SW Washington. Beginning late Wednesday, a parade of relatively warm and very wet weather systems will move into the Pacific NW that will cause significant rises on area rivers and streams later this week. These weather systems will bring periods of moderate to heavy rainfall. The rainfall will be augmented by melting snow that fell at lower elevations the past couple days.

Models are consistent in aiming several inches of precipitation towards SW Washington and NW Oregon bringing 2-4 inches to the area Wednesday with additional rainfall later in the week.

This is a situation that bears watching. Those living near rivers or streams should remain alert and keep an eye on the weather and river forecasts.

So, that's directly from the National Weather Service. I like how they throw in that Wednesday will bring a "parade" of bad weather. Worst.Parade.Ever. Also, note that they said "this is a situation that bears watching", not "this is a situation that bears are watching," as I first thought upon my initial reading. While, indeed, bears are watching, we cannot trust them to forecast weather during this time a year...too drowsy and all that.

Anyway, stay alert and keep your eyes on the weather. And watch out for bears posing as meteorologists.

Got some time on your hands?

Looks like tomorrow is shaping up to be a good day to stay inside and catch up on some reading! Want some suggestions? Try: The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley or One Second After by William Fortschen. Don't want to be bummed out and paranoid? Try The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede.

I'm sure there are tons of preparedness or survival stories, these are just recent ones I can vouch for because I've read them.

If you don't have to go out tomorrow--don't!

Low Elevation Snow

Following a briefing with the Portland National Weather Service (NWS), it appears that we are in for another day of low-elevation snow. The event will begin late tonight and continue into Wednesday afternoon. They are predicting about one to three inches on the valley floor, with more above 500 feet. High winds are expected along the coast and some may drift our way.

The NWS is following a storm pattern that will bring a lot precipitation (in the form of rain, not snow) later this week. We will know more in the coming days.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Weather to Continue

National Weather Service - Portland sent a very good synopsis of our current weather conditions and what is expected in the next couple of days. No need to reinvent the wheel so here is the latest, condensed slightly to include potential Cowlitz County information:

There is potential for some accumulating lowland snow early Tuesday morning, January 17 that may affect the morning commute. The main threat for snow accumulations will be above 500 feet, but some locations on the valley floor may get a quick inch of snow if under a snow shower, while other valley locations may see only snow showers and no accumulation.

There is a more potent storm system expected Tuesday night and Wednesday.


o A very cold air mass remains over the Pacific NW and will continue through Wednesday. A weather disturbance will move across the area late tonight into Tuesday morning and will produce some light snow accumulations, mainly above 500 feet.

o A stronger system with much more moisture will move into the region from the southwest Tuesday night into Wednesday. This system will overrun the existing cold air with the potential to produce some significant snowfall accumulations over part of the area. The challenge in this system is how fast the cold air will erode, and geographically, where the rain-snow transition line will be. This system also has the potential to produce strong, damaging winds for the Coast and Coast Range. Breezy to windy conditions will be possible in the Willamette Valley.


o Late Monday night into Tuesday morning: Another batch of organized snow showers will impact most areas, with 1 to 3 inch of snowfall accumulations possible above 500 feet. Locations below 500 feet may get a quick inch of snow if a shower passes over the area, but other locations may get no accumulations. This scenario is similar to the Sunday (Jan 15) snow showers that occurred.

o Tuesday night into Wednesday morning: Wintry precipitation potential, primarily as snow in the North Willamette Valley, Clark County/Lower Columbia, Columbia River Gorge, and other areas of Southwest Washington. Snow is also expected in the Coast Range, Foothills and Cascades with this system.

o Strong, potentially damaging winds (mainly Wednesday am) along the Coast and Coast Range.


o Hazardous travel conditions at times in most areas. The morning commute Tuesday may be impacted by slick roads.

o Significant lowland snow accumulations late Tuesday night into Wednesday.

o Strong, potentially damaging winds along the Coast and Coast Range Wednesday. These winds may down power lines and trees.


o Early Tuesday morning (commute time): 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulation, mainly above 500 feet.

o Late Tuesday night into Wednesday: Potential for significant snowfall accumulation and transition from snow to freezing rain over part of the areas.

o Early Wednesday morning through midday: Strong, potentially damaging wind storm.


o High Confidence:

§ High winds along the Coast and Coast Range early Wednesday.

o Moderate confidence:

§ An organized batch of snow showers early Tuesday morning with accumulating snow above 500 feet.

o Low Confidence:

§ Snow accumulations on valley floor Tuesday morning. Some areas may get a quick inch, other locations may get none.

§ Low confidence in the initial precipitation type and amounts of accumulating precipitation (e.g. snow, freezing rain, or rain) Tuesday night into Wednesday


o Uncertainty remains rather high for the Tuesday night /early Wednesday system concerning the geographic location where the transition zone of snow, freezing rain and rain will be. This will be highly dependent on storm track.

o Also uncertainty on how fast the cold air will erode with the Tuesday night/Wednesday system.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cold Front Coming In

From Portland National Weather Service

A cold front will bring low snow levels Saturday night through Monday, followed by a very active weather pattern bringing a series of storms mid week.

A cold front drops south from Alaska ushering a cold air mass into SW Washington and NW Oregon beginning late Saturday, then settles in place by Sunday. Showers will spread across the area with lowering snow levels Saturday night. Snow accumulation of a few inches are possible through Monday from elevations of 500 to 1000 feet and above, though in a showery air mass accumulation of snow can vary significantly. Snow showers will likely reach the valley floor at times and in heavier showers snow may accumulate briefly.

A change to a more mild, but wet and windy pattern sets up as a series of storm systems will affect the area beginning Tuesday and likely to continue through late next week.

The transition out of the cold air mass may bring a mix of wintry weather with more low elevation snow or freezing rain in and near the Columbia River Gorge sometime on Tuesday. In the Cascades, significant snow accumulations will likely make travel across the Cascades difficult.

Strong winds are also possible at times, especially on the coast and in the mountains, while a moist air mass may bring heavy rain as the storms make landfall. Interior lowlands may also
see some windy conditions and heavy rain as well. Rivers and streams are likely to respond with sharp rises.

At this time, details on the timing, strength and track of the storms are somewhat uncertain. Stay tuned for future statements and forecasts for the latest information.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Possible Snow this Weekend

From Portland National Weather Service

A cold front drops south from Alaska this weekend with a cold air mass pushing into the region. Cold air filters into SW Washington and Oregon beginning late Saturday then settles in place by Sunday. Additionally, moisture moves into the region at the same time in the form of showers. With the cold air already over the region. Snow showers are likely across the area.

Snow accumulations of a few inches are possible from elevations of 500 to 1000 feet and above. Though in a showery air mass accumulation of snow can vary significantly. Snow showers will reach the valley floor at time and in heavier showers snow may accumulate briefly.

A change in the weather pattern can be expected again by midweek with a potentially warmer and wetter pattern moving in, though details are uncertain at this time.

Red Cross Trainings Coming Up

People interested in volunteering with the SW Washington Red Cross and who have completed Red Cross orientation are encouraged to participate in two classes scheduled this month in Longview.

A Shelter Operations class will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, January 20th and a Shelter Simulation class will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 21st. Both classes will be held at Life Works, 906 New York Street in Longview.

Friday's class prepares volunteers to effectively and sensitively manage shelter operations as a team while meeting the needs of people displaced as a result of disaster. At the January 21st class, volunteers will acquire knowledge of Red Cross policies and procedures for setting up, running and closing a shelter during a disaster.

In addition, other Red Cross volunteers are needed to act as clients who are affected by a simulated disaster. For more details or to RSVP, please email Kelly Anderson at or call 360-693-5821, ext 105.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Woodland Phone Network Maintenance

On Monday, January 9, 2012 from 9:00 p.m. to Tuesday January 10, 2012 3:00 a.m., Frontier and QWEST/Century Link will be conducting network maintenance in the Woodland, WA Central Office Switch, Exchange 360-225. 9-1-1 trunks will be affected and need to be taken down during this scheduled maintenance.

The 9-1-1 trunks will be re-routed to an alternate 10 digit number that will ring directly into the 9-1-1 Center and will be processed by the Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Dispatch Center. The re-route will be seamless to citizens calling 9-1-1 from the Woodland service area. Should a citizen encounter any problems reaching 9-1-1 during this maintenance period, an alternate 10 digit number will be available to reach a 9-1-1 Dispatcher.

Citizens will be able dial 9-1-1 as they currently do today. The call will automatically be transferred by the phone company to an alternate 10 digit number, and the call will be answered at the Cowlitz County 9-1-1 Center. Should the caller encounter any problem or if they are unable to make contact with the 9-1-1 Center, they can dial direct to 360-225-7076 and the call will be answered by a 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatcher.