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El Niño ≠ Dry

Summary

According to the National Weather Service, November is historically the wettest month of the year in western Washington. This past weekend’s rain, which resulted in moderate flooding along the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers, as well as flooded roadways across the region, was an example of what we’ll see more of as we head into flood season.

Story

Forecasts of a strong El Niño weatherTWBS2015 pattern for western Washington suggest a warmer, drier winter ahead, but there is no correlation between an El Niño and storm severity. Some of the most severe flooding in the Puget Sound area has occurred during El Niños, such as the 2006 Election Flood.

And in the past six years, since the last widespread serious flooding in King County, our population has grown from 1.916 million to 2.053 million people, according to the State of Washington Office of Financial Management. That is more than 100,000 people new to an area that regularly experiences flooding. Many of these new residents may have never experienced a flood or know what flooding in the region looks like.

On Monday, Take Winter By Storm showcased how flood preparation and mitigation can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in devastating damage to urban and rural homes and businesses. The event was held at the site of the $7 million Lyon Creek Flood Mitigation Project at Lake Forest Park’s Town Center where efforts by the King County Flood Control District and other funders have revitalized infrastructure for years to come to provide safe travel and business activities around Lyon Creek – a creek that in years past caused an estimated $4 million in damages to public and private property during large floods.

“The reality of living in western Washington is that it will rain,” said Reagan Dunn, chair of the King County Flood Control District Board of Supervisors. “Residents need to stay alert to the dangers, be aware of the damage that can occur because of heavy rainfall, and educate themselves as to what to do should flooding occur in their neighborhood.”

Preparing for flooding is an essential activity this season – whether you live along a wild river, or in the middle of town. Heavy rainfall can trigger flooding along rising rivers and creeks, or from clogged storm drains. Taking a few simple steps today can save you thousands of dollars tomorrow and protect your family and property.

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Whether you are new to the area or have lived here for years, it is important to know how to prepare for floods. Take Winter By Storm offers these top five tips to prepare for flooding – find all the details at kingcounty.gov/floodservices.

1. Assemble a basic emergency preparedness grab-and-go kit for your home including a flashlight, spare batteries, a portable radio, non-perishable food, drinking water, and books or games for younger family members.
2. If you live, work or drive through areas near rivers, sign up for King County Flood Alerts, an automated system that allows subscribers to receive customized alerts via phone, text or email.
3. Buy flood insurance now; it takes 30 days for a policy to take effect, and a standard insurance policy will not cover flood damage. Contact your insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
4. Do not walk or drive through standing water. Comply with road closure signs to avoid being stranded or drowning. Monitor road conditions through social media and free King County Road Alerts.
5. Minimize flood damage by using sandbags to prevent even an inch of water inundating your home, which can cause more than $10,000 worth of damage. Store valuables and electronics high up and move vehicles and equipment to high ground before floodwaters rise.

TakeWinterByStorm.org is a one-stop emergency preparedness information hub that includes safety tips and regional resources related to high winds, heavy rain, snow, freezing conditions, power outages, flooding and more.
For more information on the Take Winter By Storm campaign:

• Visit us online: TakeWinterByStorm.org
• Like us on Facebook: Take Winter By Storm
• Follow us on Twitter and Periscope: @WinterByStorm, #stormready, #winterprep
• View us on YouTube: Take Winter By Storm

About Take Winter By Storm
The Take Winter By Storm campaign is a collaborative, public-private effort between King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light, Snohomish County Public Utility District, the cities of Bellevue and Seattle, State Farm, National Weather Service/NOAA, and other local retailers - which represent Washington state’s largest counties and city emergency management offices and utilities, the leading insurer of homes and automobiles, weather forecasters, first responders during disaster occurrences, and local businesses. These organizations have joined forces in the major multi-media public awareness campaign to raise community awareness of hazardous weather and help protect lives and property.

Media Contacts:
Doug Williams, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks
206-477-4543
doug-media.williams@kingcounty.gov

Karen Rich, Take Winter By Storm
206-409-0131
media@takewinterbystorm.org