Storms will bring safety hazards to western Washington

News stations are reporting that a series of storm systems will slam into Washington this week, putting the western portion of the state at risk for flooding and wind damage. According to meteorologist Cliff Mass, the western shoreline could experience hurricane-force gusts, although areas in the interior of the state are less likely to see dangerous winds.

On Wednesday night, a storm system is expected to come in from the coast and push inland overnight through Thursday morning. This storm is expected to cause strong winds on the coast and through the Strait; the Puget Sound and the Lowlands should only see 1-2 inches of rain, although the Olympics and Cascades could see up to 4 inches of rain and the south facing slopes of the Olympics may see more than 5 inches of rain.

On Thursday afternoon, a cyclone currently travelling across the Pacific Ocean is expected to reach the Washington coast, bringing heavy rain and strong wind with it. Gusts may reach as high as 75 miles per hour in some areas. High swells will make the sea dangerous, with a possible height of 30 feet. Coastal areas are likely to experience flooding from the storm surge.

This Saturday, a very strong storm system will move in; it is likely to last through Sunday morning. Experts are predicting power outages, tree damage, and river flooding. "The system and the path is looking alarmingly like the Columbus Day windstorm which hit here 54 years ago,” said KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott, referencing a historic weather event that caused 46 deaths in 1962.

Storm Safety

While Seattleites aren’t phased by a little rain, we’re all going to need to take extra precautions to stay safe in a weather event of this magnitude.

Before the storm

  • Put together a kit of everything you need to survive a power outage. Make sure to include a flashlight or candles, extra batteries, nonperishable foods that don’t need power to cook, bottled water, a first aid kit, and any personal hygiene items you may need. Make sure everyone in your household knows where this kit is located and that they would be able to find it in the dark.
  • If you live in an area that may experience flooding, put together a full disaster kit. Make sure that everyone in your household knows where this kit is, and that it’s in an area that’s easy to access if you have to leave your home quickly. Make plans for where you will go and what you will do with children and pets if you have to leave your home.
  • Pay attention to the news, especially if you live in an area that is at high risk for flooding.
  • Be aware of any items in your yard that could be hazards in a windstorm, and put them inside if you can.

During the storm

  • Pay attention to the news, especially to emergency alerts.
  • Do not drive unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • If you must drive, do not attempt to ford running water with your car, even if it looks shallow. The full force of moving water can easily carry away even a large vehicle.
  • If you’re driving on a wet and windy road, slow down and increase your travelling distance. Wet pavement will make it harder to stop over a short distance, and decreased visibility may make it harder to see if the car in front of you skids or comes to a sudden stop. Keep in mind that you may still be liable for causing an accident by driving too fast for conditions, even if the weather is bad.

After the storm

  • Be on the lookout for downed power lines. If you see one, keep pets and children away from the area. Do not attempt to drive over the line or touch anything that is in contact with the line. Do not touch the wire; electricity may still be flowing through it. Call 911 to report the hazard immediately.
  • Keep paying attention to emergency alerts. Even if the worst of the rain is gone in your area, flooding may still be a concern.
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