The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Weather Update

We have been watching the weather and forecasts for our area all afternoon. The National Weather Service (NWS) has no flood watches or warnings for Cowlitz County. We expect the rivers to be high but not over flood stage except for the Columbia. The Columbia is expected to crest at ¾ of a foot over flood stage on Sunday afternoon mostly because of ocean tidal influences. This may cause flooding of low lying areas but no buildings should be impacted.

We will continue to have rain over the weekend with limited impacts on the rivers. Watch for localized urban flooding on streets and low lying areas. Our weekend duty officer will keep an eye on the weather and river levels in case something changes. You can obtain up to date information at the NWS Portland or the River Forecast Center websites.

River Update

So far the Cowlitz River looks like it will remain under flood stage tonight and through the weekend, as does the Lewis River at Woodland.  The only river that will likely sit right at flood stage will be parts of the Columbia River.  During this type of rain, it's common to see street and small stream flooding.  If conditions change significantly, we will send out an update.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Weather Update

The National Weather Service – Portland held a weather event briefing this afternoon (see attached slides). They are forecasting a heavy rain storm (aka: Pineapple Express) to impact NW Oregon and SW Washington over the next 48 hours. Several inches of rain and flooding is predicted in many of the rivers in Oregon south of the Columbia River along with Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties in Washington.

For the time being the forecast models show the main storm going south and there should not be flooding in Clark or Cowlitz Counties. We will be closely monitoring this weather event and will send out updates if anything changes.

Detecting Natural Gas Leaks

From Cascade Natural Gas:
The following may indicated a natural gas leak:
  • A blowing, whistling, or hissing sound
  • A patch of dry ground in an otherwise damp or wet area
  • A patch of discolored soil or dead vegetation
  • Dry (or moist) dirt being blown in the air
  • Water bubbling or spraying into the air in a mud puddle or wet area
  • A sign of fire floating on the ground or around a pipe
  • A very strong odor similar to rotten eggs or the smell of a skunk
Pipelines have a good safety record relative to the tremendous volumes of products they carry.  And we strive to have the best trained and dedicated workforce to ensure that our design, construction, and maintenance activities ensure we have the safe and efficient natural gas delivery system you expect, but leaks and pipeline accidents can and sometimes do occur.  Natural gas is flammable, non-toxic, and lighter than air.  A specific mixture of natural gas with air is necessary for ignition.  If there is too much air, or too little gas, it will not ignite.  Properly used and controlled, it is safe and reliable.  The potential consequences of an uncontrolled gas release can be harmful, and even deadly.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Assemble the Ultimate Car Emergency Kit

Our trusty reader Andy sent in this link from Popular Mechanics for an extensive list of items to carry in your car.  Click here and go through the slides.  They include some items I wouldn't have necessarily thought about adding:  dog food (check out the article to see why), wire ties, Ziploc bags, etc....

Friday, March 23, 2012

Phone Scam Alert

From Washington State Emergency Management Division

Residents of Washington, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states have reported receiving calls from someone requesting money for 9-1-1 services. The caller claims that residents must pay a fee to register their house in a 9 1 1 database so first responders can locate the home in an emergency. The caller also requests names and medical information from the residents.

This is a scam. 9-1-1 services are funded through dedicated 9-1-1 excise taxes on telephone bills and by other local government funds.

Any request for 9-1-1 funds over the phone is a fraud. Residents who receive these calls should hang up and report the suspicious call to their local police or sheriff’s non-emergency phone number.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another great kit idea!

Leave it to our faithful blog readers to find yet another super cool emergency kit.  This one from Field and Stream magazine is made out of an Altoids tin.  Not only will you have a handy survival kit, but its contents will smell minty fresh!  Check out the slide show to learn step by step how to make your own.  Thanks Andy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Soggy St. Paddy's Day

From the PDX National Weather Service (who should consider changing their name to the National Purveyors of Gloom and Doom):

Another Pacific Storm is coming late today and into early Saturday.  After enduring several strong Pacific storms already this week, another potent Pacific storm is on the horizon for SW Washington and NW Oregon later today into early Saturday.

There will likely be gusty winds later tonight and early Saturday.  The central and south Willamette Valley will likely see the strongest winds.  The exact track and strength of the low pressure system will determine how strong the winds will be and what areas are affected by stronger winds.  This could also result in cold easterly winds and snow in the Columbia River Gorge.  Snow levels will become quite low this weekend, at least into the Cascade Foothills and Coast Range Saturday and Sunday.  Snow could reach valley floors on Sunday and into Sunday night.  However, snow amounts should be light.

The unsettled and frequently cool weather pattern will likely continue through the weekend then warmer, but wet systems for next week bringing occasional windy conditions to the coast.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Luck is not a Plan

Top o' the afternoon to you!  St. Patrick's Day is almost here, a day filled with clovers, rainbows, green beer, fake Irish accents, gratuitious pinching and rampant cultural stereotypes.  We would all like to have a little bit of St. Patrick's Day luck in an emergency situation.  Luck, blessing, karma, faith, kismet, it whatever want, but don't use it as your lifeline in an emergency.  Emergency kits, stored water, family plans, insurance;  these are real, tangible things that could make a huge difference in whether or not your family thrives during a large scale disaster, or merely survives. 

Luck?  Sure, there's some luck involved, but good fortune tends to favor the prepared.  Want to learn more about preparedness?  Check out our website at

Rainy Thursday

Today we received quite a bit more rain than was anticipated from this storm. Our director talked with Andy Bryant at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland and he said the worst of the rain should be over for the day. The rain we saw was supposed to have hit south of Portland but changes in the jetstream caused it to come further north.

The Cowlitz at Kelso is predicted to crest at about 20 feet without flooding. We will be watching the rivers carefully in case any of this should change. Keep an eye on the NWS river forecast website for updates.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

Emergency Kit!  This cute little kit won't help you if you're hungry or thirsty, but it can pack enough to start a fire and treat injuries.  Check it out here, you could probably even make your own.  Thanks to blog reader Sam for sharing!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Winter That Won't Go Away

Directly from National Weather Service:

... Low snow levels very late Monday night and Tuesday morning in the lower elevations of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon...

In the wake of the very strong Pacific frontal system that was moving through on Monday... colder air will spread in and will bring another round of very low snow levels to the lower elevations of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon very late Monday night and on Tuesday morning.

Snow levels could get close to 500 feet or lower Tuesday morning... and possibly close to the valley floor in brief heavier showers. Amounts at higher elevations around the valley such as The West Hills of Portland could see one or two inch accumulations. Amounts at the valley floor should be spotty and lighter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Solar Storm

Creative Commons Image via
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A solar storm that began Tuesday evening could disrupt satellites and power grids on Earth this week. Great article by the Chicago Sun-Times (no pun intended) explaining this phenomenon at .

This is a great example of another reason to be prepared for power outages regardless of the weather outside!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Emergency Planning--Dr. Seuss Style

Tomorrow is Dr. Suess' birthday and in honor of this auspicious occasion, I would like to talk about emergency food storage in the manner that Dr. Suess would discuss it. I am a picky eater, I'm getting better (as in, I no longer exclusively order off the children's menu) but I'm still not sure that I would eat some of the "emergency rations" that come in some emergency kits.

I know, I know, if I was hungry enough I would eat anything (case-in-point: reduced fat frozen "entrees"), but why punish myself or my family? That's why I have a sweet little butane burner that is rated for indoor use, a case of extra butane and a selection of foods that can be made on one burner with no electricity. Why would I subject myself to canned meat, Coast Guard food pellets or protein bars when the wonders of Velveeta Shells and Cheese are right at my finger tips?! Anyway, happy birthday to Dr. Suess, this one's for you!

Powdered Eggs and Spam

I do not like powdered eggs and spam

I do not like them DEM-I-Am

I will not eat them after a flood

I would not eat them if I was stuck in mud

I will not eat them in a quake

I would not eat them, I want a steak

I would not eat them in a storm

I will not eat them in any form

That is why I have a plan

A stove, some butane and not canned ham

I have a pot, I have a pan

I have a burner, I could make some flan

Well, ok, that’s a bit of a stretch

However, some nice soup I could certainly fetch

Some pancakes, some noodles, some chili with beans

Eating lousy food in an emergency? There’s just no need.

I do so like emergency plans

Thank you, thank you DEM-I-AM!

There you have it. You're welcome.

March is Red Cross Month!

March is American Red Cross month, a month long celebration of Red Cross accomplishments and a look forward to future goals. The month long commemoration was created in the 1940’s when the Red Cross started a Roll Call drive to increase public support during wartime. After discussions with President Franklin Roosevelt, the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, an official call for support was issued and he declared the whole month of March Red Cross Month. Each president since has issued a proclamation for the month of March. You can find out more info at