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Hurricane emergency preparedness

Learn more about preparing for hurricanes in our county.

Hurricanes are massive tropical storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, extremely heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale classifies hurricanes into five categories based on wind speed, central pressure, and wind damage potential. Hurricanes can cause loss of life and catastrophic damage to property along coastlines and can extend several hundred miles inland. The extent of damage varies according to the size and wind intensity of the storm, the amount and duration of rainfall, the path of the storm, and other factors such as the number and type of buildings in the area, the terrain, and soil conditions.

Thanks to its northerly location, King County is not directly affected by hurricanes. However, remnants of these storm systems can be carried from the tropics into our region by the jet stream, bringing heavy rain and high winds. Preparing for these extratropical storms is the same as preparing for any other heavy rain or wind event.

Prepare for a hurricane

  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or raining steadily for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to higher ground.
  • Be alert to downed wires or tree branches following strong winds
  • Make arrangements for housing in the event you need to evacuate your home.
  • Teach all family members how, where and when to turn off utilities.
  • Consider purchasing 1 more pumps to use to remove water in and around your home during heavy rains or flooding.
  • Prepare for utility outages which often accompany heavy rain and high winds.
  • Review your flood insurance policies for structure and contents coverage. Don't have insurance? Contact your insurance representative or visit

What to do

During a flood

  • Monitor local media or NOAA Weather Radio for information and emergency instructions.
  • Have your emergency supply kit ready to go if told to evacuate.
  • If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible. Delay or refusal to evacuate can jeopardize your safety, the safety of emergency responders, and hinder rescue efforts.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher levels in your home if you have time.
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains.
  • Do not drive around barricades - they are there for your safety.
  • Never drive through a flooded area. Most cars can be carried away by just a few inches of moving water.
  • Don't walk or wade through flood waters. You can be knocked off your feet by as little as six inches of moving water.

Returning to your home after a flood

  • Do not turn electricity back on if you smell gas or if the electric system has been flooded.
  • Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
  • Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas.
  • Use flashlights (not lanterns, candles, or matches) to check buildings containing natural gas, propane, or gasoline.
  • Follow directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by flood waters and throw out any food that was touched by floodwater or was affected by power outages.