Skip to main content
King County logo

Newsroom

Natural Resources and Parks
Public Affairs


King County leaders urge flood preparedness now as forecast for ‘La Nina’ winter hints at wetter, cooler weather

Summary

The King County Executive and King County Flood Control District Chair announce October is Flood Awareness Month and remind residents to prepare now for what could be an active season because of the predicted “La Nina” weather pattern this winter.

Story

With a long-range forecast for a wetter-than-normalfcd_color_logo winter and possible increased flooding, King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Flood District Chair Dave Upthegrove encourage people in flood-prone areas to prepare now as the region’s annual flood season gets underway.

“Taking small steps now - like learning your flood risk, updating your emergency supplies, signing up for flood alerts, and knowing alternate routes to and from home - can offer peace of mind as we head into what could be a very active flood season,” Executive Constantine said.

As King County officials prepare for another fall and winter season responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important for residents to prepare for disaster resilience, including flooding, which is the most common natural disaster in King County.

“We have seen the impact of flooding on other communities across the country and it’s important that we all prepare so that we don’t experience similar tragedies here,” said Flood District Chair Upthegrove. “The Flood District works year ‘round to address issues of flooding on our major rivers, including projects such as the Lower Russell Levee Setback which, once completed, will better protect residences and commercial development from flooding, while also improving habitat for fish and wildlife along the Lower Green River.”

Check to see if where you live, work, commute, or go to school are prone to flooding by entering your address at kingcounty.gov/floodmap

Preparedness for those who live in areas where flooding can occur includes assembling a basic emergency kit for the home, with items such as a flashlight with spare batteries, a portable radio, non-perishable food, drinking water, medical necessities, and any necessary items for children or pets.

Through funding provided by the King County Flood Control District, King County developed KC Flood Alerts - a free, automated system offering subscribers access to alerts of potential flooding for any or all of King County’s six major river systems.

Immediate notifications about pending high water are sent via email, text message, or voicemail.

Sign up for KC Flood Alerts at kingcounty.gov/flood, where detailed flood preparedness information is available, including real-time river levels and road conditions, plus weather reports and more.

King County also issues flood-related notifications and other emergency information via ALERT King County, a regional emergency information and notification system. Learn more at kingcounty.gov/alert.

Important steps to take before flooding occurs include: 

Buy flood insurance. It takes 30 days for a policy to take effect, and standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. Contact your insurance agent or visit floodsmart.gov.
Avoid flood damage by storing important documents, valuables, and electronics high up, and by moving vehicles and equipment to high ground before flood waters rise.
Dispose of hazardous chemicals, such as lawn and gardening herbicides, at one of the county’s household hazardous waste sites to help reduce harmful contaminates in flood waters. Learn more at kingcounty.gov/hazwaste.
Clear storm drains and gutters of fallen leaves to prevent flooding and protect streams.

When flooding is imminent, King County employees will analyze and distribute flood warning information so that residents, businesses, property owners, and emergency response officials can make important health, safety, and economic decisions. 

When river levels rise to designated thresholds, King County activates its Flood Warning Center around-the-clock to monitor river gages, weather data, dam operations, and road closures. During a flood, trained County employees will take to the field to address safety concerns, such as flooded roadways, and to check on river facilities.

When the Flood Warning Center is open, residents can directly contact King County staff 24 hours a day with their flooding concerns and questions by calling 206-296-8200 or 1-800-945-9263. 

For assistance with, or questions about, flooding on smaller streams or drainage problems in urban areas, call 206-477-4811 during business hours or 206-296-8100 after hours or on weekends. 

###

The King County Flood Control District is a special purpose government created to provide funding and policy oversight for flood protection projects and programs in King County. The Flood Control District’s Board is composed of the members of the King County Council. The Water and Land Resources Division of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks develops and implements the approved flood protection projects and programs. Information is available at kingcountyfloodcontrol.org/.