The King County Executive and King County Flood Control District Chair remind everyone to prepare now for what could be another active flood season as the region faces the third consecutive winter with a “La Nina” weather pattern, and as climate change increases the potential for more frequent and severe flooding.
Weather experts predict a rare third consecutive La Nina winter storm pattern with likely wetter-than-normal conditions this flood season, and King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Flood District Chair Dave Upthegrove are encouraging flood preparedness.
“Climate change is already increasing our odds of seeing more frequent and more intense flooding, and a third La Nina weather pattern only adds more certainty to predictions of an active flood season,” Executive Constantine said. “I urge everyone who lives, works, or travels through flood-prone areas take steps now to be prepared.”
Last year’s La Nina weather pattern and atmospheric rivers resulted in eight moderate and minor flood events in King County, including a rare flood event in June 2022.
“Flooding is our most frequent natural disaster and finding ways to reduce the risk of flood damage to people and property is something we work on throughout the year,” said Flood District Chair Upthegrove. “One example is the Lower Russell Levee Setback Project that will be completed this year in Kent. The project replaces an old, degraded levee with a new setback levee creating more space for flood water and reduces the risk of flooding to homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure in the lower Green River Valley.”
The project also improves salmon habitat on the Green River by creating more shallow, slow water habitat and improves Van Doren’s Park in Kent for recreation.
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 seven King County rivers and Issaquah Creek.
Sign up for KC Flood Alerts at kingcounty.gov/flood, where you can also find information on real-time river levels, road conditions, and weather reports during flood events.
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.
Beginning this year, people can also sign up for information on flood conditions through the Keeping King County Green blog at kingcountygreen.com. The blog will share real time updates on flood conditions, photos, and video from staff in the field.
King County is ready when flooding comes
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.
King County activates its Flood Warning Center when river levels rise to designated thresholds to monitor river gages, weather data, dam operations, and road closures while flood conditions persist. Trained County employees take to the field during floods to address safety concerns, such as flooded roadways, and to check on levees and other 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.
Take these actions now to be flood ready
Important steps to take before flooding occurs include:
- Learn about flood risks where you live, work, go to school or commute enter an address at kingcounty.gov/floodmap.
- 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.
- Build an emergency kit. Preparedness for those living in flood-prone areas 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.
- Move hazardous chemicals, such as lawn and gardening herbicides, out of flood prone areas or dispose 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.
For more information, contact:
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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.