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Questions and Answers about the Flood Alert System

Questions and Answers about the Flood Alert System

Back to the sign-up form

About the sign-up form

Why do you need my name?
Your name will be used to help identify and verify your account if you call for assistance in the future.

Why do you need my e-mail?
You need to use your e-mail address to sign in and confirm or update your subscription preferences. It is also used to send a password reminder if you forget your password in the future.

  • If you do not have e-mail, or do not want to enter your e-mail address, you can call 206-477-4899.
  • If you want to receive alerts at multiple addresses, you can enter additional e-mails in the "second e-mail" and "third e-mail" fields. You must have the primary e-mail field entered and confirmed, though.

Why does it say "your e-mail cannot be confirmed"?
You must type your e-mail twice – in the "E-mail" field and the "Confirm e-mail" field. This helps prevent typos to ensure that you will get your alerts (and can sign in to check or update your subscription).

Is my phone number required?
You do not need to enter your phone number unless you want to receive alerts by phone.

How do I sign up for text message alerts?
Put your cellphone or other text message (SMS) device's phone number in the "Text / SMS phone number" field. This number will be sent a text message for each alert.

If you also want to receive a voice alert on the same cellphone, put your cellphone number in either the "Voice phone 1" or "Voice phone 2" fields. If your cellphone number is only entered in the "Text / SMS phone number" field, it will not receive voice alerts.

Do I have to receive text messages on my cellphone?
No, if you cannot receive text messages or do not want to receive them, leave the "Text/SMS phone number" field blank. Make sure your cellphone number is in either the "Voice phone 1" or "Voice phone 2" fields so it will receive voice alerts.

Can I receive text messages on multiple cellphones or other devices?
We do not currently have the ability for you to enter multiple text message numbers on one account. There are two work-arounds available:

  • If your additional text devices can receive e-mail, you can enter their e-mail addresses in the "Second e-mail" or "Third e-mail" fields.
  • If you have an additional e-mail address where you can receive alerts, you can create a second account with this e-mail address and then enter your second cellphone / pager / text message device's phone number in the "Text/SMS phone number" field.

How many alert lists can I sign up for?
You can sign up for as many of the rivers and flood phases as you like. Each alert type is sent separately when the Flood Warning Center determines that a river has reached a particular phase threshold.

Note that the three public phase alerts for each river are issued separately. If you want to get alerts for each phase on a river, check all three boxes for that river.

How will I know I'm signed up?

  • If you signed up on the Web page (, you can log in using your e-mail address and password to confirm your subscriptions. If you don't remember your password, there is a password reminder feature which will e-mail your password to you.
  • If you no longer have access to the e-mail address you used to sign up, don't have e-mail, or need further assistance, you can call 206-477-4899.

Why do I keep getting a "server busy" message?

You may be redirected to this page for a number of reasons – in order to serve as many people as possible, our subscription form does limit the number of accounts you can sign up at once. If you need to sign up multiple people for alerts (e.g. co-workers), you can add more the next day or call 206-477-4899. You may also see this page due to a large number of people signing up at once. Please try again later.

Is my contact information kept private?

Please see the county's privacy policy. Note that your contact information is provided to our message-delivery vendor, AlertSense, for the sole purpose of delivering flood alerts by e-mail, text message, and/or phone. The county does not sell or rent information to other parties, and takes steps to safeguard your information. However, as a public entity, this information may be subject to public disclosure as directed by local, state, or federal laws.

About the alert messages

Where do the messages come from?

King County has contracted with the vendor AlertSense for message delivery. E-mail and text messages will come from the address – you may need to add this address to your "allowed sender" list or otherwise adjust any spam-blockers to ensure that you receive the alerts. The phone messages will come from the phone number 206-296-8200.

What do Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase 4 mean?

King County issues flood alerts based on a four-phase warning system, issued independently for each river. The thresholds for each phase are based on river gages which measure the flow and stage (depth) of major rivers in various locations. Phase 1 is an internal alert to King County staff. Phase 2 indicates minor flooding in some areas. Phase 3 indicates moderate flooding in some areas. Phase 4 indicates major flooding in areas. Flood alerts are intended to provide information that can help in making health, safety and economic decisions during a flood. For more information, see the Flood Warning Pages.

Will I get phase alerts when the rivers go down?

No, the Phase 2, 3, and 4 alerts are only issued as the rivers rise past the phase thresholds. They are not re-sent as the rivers recede back past the thresholds again. However, if a river falls and the phase is lowered, and then later the river rises above the next threshold again, a second alert may be issued (since the river is rising at that point).

What happened to Phase 1?

Phase 1 is an internal alert to King County staff and is not issued publicly.

Will I receive any other alerts besides the ones I signed up for?

You will also be added to a "River emergency" list for each river you signed up for. The "River emergency" alerts will be used for any flood-related emergency. If you receive a "River emergency" alert, please check your local news media, the King County Web site at, or call call 206-296-8200 or 800-945-9263.

What does "River emergency" mean?

The "River emergency" alerts will be sent for any emergency conditions or other critical notification other than a Phase 2, Phase 3, or Phase 4 declaration. It is impossible to define what conditions will result in a "River emergency" alert – possible examples could include events such as levees being damaged or overtopped, a chemical spill into a river, etc. Because of the wide range of possible emergencies, the alerts themselves are not specific. If you receive a "River emergency" alert, you will need to consult other sources (e.g. news media or the Web) for more information.

An example of a "River emergency" alert:

"This message is to inform you of emergency conditions associated with the Tolt River. For more information, see or call 800-945-9263."

How do I sign up for the "River emergency" alerts?

You are automatically signed up for emergency alerts for any rivers you sign up for. For example, if you sign up for Cedar River Phase 2, 3, or 4 and Green River Phase 2, 3, or 4 then you will also be added to the Cedar River Emergency and Green River Emergency alert lists.

Do you issue alerts for other rivers or streams?

The Flood Alert System is part of King County's Flood Warning System, which issues flood phase declarations on six major rivers in King County. Though flooding occurs in other areas, only these six rivers are included in the Flood Alert System. River gage data is available online for other river systems (e.g. Skykomish River and Raging River) at

How to maximize your alert message delivery

Automated alerts are one of many ways to help protect your home, family, or business during a flood. However, in an emergency no single system is foolproof. Therefore, it is important to check multiple sources for information – such as radio, television and the Internet – and use varied methods of delivery for getting information directly – such as voice, text or email.

King County cannot guarantee delivery of Flood Alerts through its Flood Alert System.

Follow these steps to be better informed and more confident you'll get advance warning of emergencies that may affect you.

  1. Subscribe to / regularly check all appropriate alerting / warning providers
    There are multiple emergency alert providers available, depending on where you live, so take advantage of as many as you can. Check our list (below) and sign up for any that cover your area.
  2. Sign up for multiple types of alert media
    Sign up to receive alerts by all methods possible: phone, cellphone, text message, and e-mail. If you have multiple phones or email addresses, you may want to add them all. You may be inundated with messages when something happens, but you'll be more likely to receive at least one of the messages in a real emergency.
  3. Clear the way for delivery on your end
    Make sure that the alerts you sign up for don't end up in your Spam folder (or get deleted before you even see them)! Find out what e-mail address the alerts will be sent from, and make sure your e-mail accounts are set to receive from this address. Each e-mail program or company is different – you may be able to click a "not junk" or "not spam" button, or you may need to add the address to your contacts or to an "approved sender" list. Check your e-mail help pages or support.

    King County Flood Alerts come from – so make sure this address is approved.

Other alerting and notification systems (including external links)

For questions about the King County Flood Warning System, please contact Ken Zweig, River and Floodplain Management Section.