Wildfire season in Washington State begins today

Wildfire season officially begins April 15, as specified by state law, and already the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has had more than 60 forest fires reported this year on lands protected by the agency.

“This year, we have ominous predictions for a hot, dry summer,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “While we work hard to prepare for what could be a challenging season, there are some things property owners can and should do to prepare.”

Property owners can reduce fire risk to their homes and lands by keeping dead vegetation off roofs and away from buildings. The Firewise program explains how to use these techniques and offers incentives to communities who follow Firewise principles.

Prediction for this summer’s weather is available from the National Weather Service. The risk of wildfires can change rapidly during the spring when warmer, dryer weather increases. Among other things, that means people working in the woods or clearing land need to have fire prevention equipment on hand.

Already, above average temperatures and low snowpack have created dry grassland and forests. On March 13, Governor Inslee declared a drought in three Washington regions – the Olympic Peninsula, east slopes of the Central Cascades and Walla Walla.

Last year, more than 315,000 acres of DNR-protected lands were consumed by about 900 wildfires, in the state’s worst ever fire season.  Even though Washington experienced more lightning strikes than normal, 75 percent of the fires were human-caused.

Starting April 22, DNR will offer a series of wildfire preparedness meetings across eastern Washington aimed at helping residents in fire-prone areas of the state prepare for wildfire season.

The agency is also current requesting additional resources from the legislature to increase wildland firefighters and equipment, and to improve the health and fire resistance of Washington forests.

Washington’s summer fire rules

Washington’s “summer fire rules” are in effect April 15 through October 15. These rules apply to the 13 million acres of private and state forestlands protected from wildfire by DNR.

These regulations affect loggers, firewood cutters, land clearers, road builders, heavy equipment operators, off-road motorcyclists, and others. During fire season, people using motorized equipment in the woods must have approved spark arresters and follow fire safety precautions. In addition, those working in the woods must have fire prevention and extinguishing equipment in good working order at the job site and workers trained in proper use.

The rules are intended to prevent forest fires and to extinguish small fires before they spread. Those same rules restrict cigarette smoking in forested areas on roads, gravels pits, or other clearings. They also prohibit lighting fireworks on forestland.

Stay connected during wildfire season
Daily fire risk ratings available by phone and Internet

Industrial Fire Precaution Levels (IFPL) may change daily and classify varying levels of potential fire hazard in different parts of the state. People who work in the woods must observe the IFPL. More information is available from the following sources:

precaution levels, a map of current shutdown zones, and a copy of DNR’s Industrial Fire Precaution Level Bulletin.

  • DNR’s toll-free business line at 1-800-527-3305 plays a message identifying daily

industrial fire precaution levels, which are listed by geographical region. The hearing

impaired can phone Telephone Device for the Deaf at 1-800-833-6388.

  • Email DNR at RPD@dnr.wa.gov. Ask questions or request a copy of DNR’s Industrial

Fire Precaution Level Bulletin or additional information on safe outdoor burning of forest debris and safe recreational campfire tips.

DNR’s wildfire mission

Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 13 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with over 1,100 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires as needed. During fire season, this includes over 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 400 seasonal employees hired for firefighting duties. Additionally, Department of Corrections’ adult offenders and Department of Social and Health Services-Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration juvenile offenders support firefighting efforts through DNR’s Correctional Camps Program. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.

 

High wind warning issued, Grays Harbor Emergency Management warns clam diggers

CLAM DIG ALERT – HIGH WIND WARNING ISSUED

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a HIGH WIND WARNING for much of Western Washington, including Grays Harbor County from 5pm Saturday afternoon to 11pm Saturday evening.

Some Affected Locations, Westport, Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Montesano.

*** CLAM DIG ALERT ***

*** DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK TO THE SEA. ***

LOW TIDE IS EXPECTED @ 8:22 PM SATURDAY EVENING. LOW TIDE WILL OCCUR DURING THE MOST VOLITILE PART OF THE STORM IMPACTING THE COASTAL REGION. CLAM DIGGERS NEED TO BE ALERT FOR WAVES SWEEPING UP THE BEACHES FARTHER THAN USUAL DUE TO HIGH WIND AND STORM SURGE CONDITIONS.  WAVES WILL BE STRONG ENOUGH TO SWEEP A PERSON, PET OR CHILD OUT TO SEA.

The wind will begin from the South 15 to 25 mph this afternoon, switching to West or Northwest 25 to 40 MPH with to Gusts to 60 mph along the coastal regions. Strong gusts may continue into the early morning hours on Sunday. These are the highest forecast wind gusts so far this year.

Winds this strong can snap small tree branches topple small or shallow rooted trees, and cause local power outages.

A High Wind Warning Means That a Hazardous Wind Event is Imminent or Occurring.

Also associated with this storm may be thunderstorms with heavy rain. Minor flooding could occur in low lying areas as well as create major puddling on highways and streets making driving extremely hazardous, especially at night.

Grays Harbor County Emergency Management is urging all residents to prepare for the severe weather that has been forecast. When the strong winds and rain arrive, power outages are likely to occur. Do not approach fallen trees, branches or power lines. Check your generators. Do not use generators indoors. Do not refuel portable space heaters indoors. Never use your oven or barbeque grill to heat your home. Grays Harbor County Emergency Management will continue to monitor the forecast with the National Weather Service.

Remember to call 911 ONLY in a true emergency. During severe weather events, 911 receives a high increase of calls. Please do not call 911 to receive weather updates or for road conditions. You can receive the most up to date information from Grays Harbor County Emergency Management on Facebook, Twitter and on the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Website at http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/info/DEM/Index.asp

 

Flood Watch issued for Western Washington

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Flood Watch to include portions of Western Washington including Grays Harbor County from late tonight through Wednesday afternoon.

The Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency reports  heavy rainfall amounts of 5 to 8 inches are possible tonight into early Wednesday along the Southwestern and Western Olympics. This amount of rainfall could cause the Quinault, Clearwater, Bogachiel, Hoh, and other rivers flowing off the Olympics to flood late tonight Into Wednesday.

A Flood Watch means conditions are favorable for flooding but flooding is NOT imminent or occurring.

Wind Advisory for Grays Harbor, Warning for Pacific County

Strong winds forecast for Western Washington have prompted two separate alerts from the National Weather Service.

Pacific County and Southwestern Washington:

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a high wind warning near beaches and headlands…which is in effect from 3 pm this afternoon to 9 am pdt wednesday. this replaces the high wind watch which was previously in effect.

* winds: near beaches and headlands…south winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts 60 to 70 mph at times. coastal communities…south winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts 45 to 55 mph at times.

* timing: beginning late this afternoon and continuing until just after sunrise wednesday morning.

* locations include: cannon beach…netarts…pacific city… long beach…cape disappointment.

* impacts: the winds will likely cause difficulties for beachgoers and those accessing beach and headland areas…including causing tree damage in headland areas.

precautionary/preparedness actions…

a high wind warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage.

 

Grays Harbor County and Northwest Washington:

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Wind Advisory in effect from 5pm this afternoon to 8 am Wednesday morning.

South wind 20 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph will increase this evening and peak overnight.

Impacts, winds this strong can snap small tree branches, topple small or shallow rooted trees, and cause
local power outages.

A Wind Advisory is issued when sustained winds of 30 to 39 mph and/or gusts of 45 to 57 mph are likely.

Hoquiam turns on the spray park, Weather Service warns of cold rivers in hot weather

The city of Hoquiam has energized the spray park for the next couple days so kids can enjoy some early summer.  The park will be active from about 12-7 today and tomorrow, and will re-open again around Memorial Day weekend.

Pacific Northwest residents are being warned to be careful around rivers and lakes as temperatures rise into the 70s and 80s today and tomorrow. The National Weather Service says rivers fed by melting snow are around 45-to-50 degrees. People who jump or fall in could be immobilized by cold water shock or suffer from hypothermia. They also could be swept away in fast-moving currents. Warming has raised the avalanche danger for the west slopes of the Washington Cascades and the Mount Hood area.

Hoquiam becomes 164th city nationwide to earn TsunamiReady and StormReady designation

The city of Hoquiam is now TsunamiReady and StormReady. Ted Beuhner with the National Weather Service attended the council meeting last night presenting the city with the award, and two new TsunamiReady signs. “On behalf of myself and all of us at the National Weather Service in Seattle, Renee and everybody that she works with in the Washington Emergency Management Division, Chuck Wallace in Grays Harbor County Emergneyc Management, and the citizens of Hoquiam, congratulations.

Starting off National Tsunami Preparedness Week, the city became the 164th city nationwide to earn the designation. Beuhner added “In fact, all up and down the coast from Pacific County up to Clallam County, all the outer coastal counties are currently Tsunami Ready.”

Schools, playgrounds, hospitals, factories and homes are often built in areas vulnerable to tsunamis. The TsunamiReady Program, developed by the National Weather Service, is designed to help cities, towns, counties, universities and other large sites in coastal areas reduce the potential for disastrous tsunami-related consequences.

Since June 20, 2001 TsunamiReady has helped community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local operations. TsunamiReady communities are better prepared to save lives through better planning, education and awareness. Communities have fewer fatalities and property damage if they plan before a tsunami arrives. No community is tsunami proof, but TsunamiReady can help minimize loss to your community. Find out what’s involved in becoming TsunamiReady.

TsunamiReady Hoquiam, Washington

High Wind Watch in effect for the coast Saturday afternoon

The National Weather Service In Seattle Has Issued A High Wind Watch…Which Is In Effect From Saturday Afternoon Through Late Saturday Night.

Note: The image may not reflect the current alert state for your county due to a several minute delay between the issuance of the alert and the map processing.

• Wind…Southerly 30 To 40 Mph With Gusts To 65 Mph Possible Saturday Afternoon And Night.
• Some Affected Locations…Westport…Ocean Shores…Hoquiam… Forks…And La Push.
• Timing…Very Strong…Possibly Damaging…Winds Are Expected To Develop Saturday Afternoon…With The Highest Speeds Anticipated Late In The Day Saturday Or Early Saturday Evening.
• Impacts…High Winds Can Down Trees And Power Lines As Well As Damage Property And Cause Power Outages.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions…

A High Wind Watch Means There Is The Potential For A Damaging Wind Event. Sustained Winds Of At Least 40 Mph And/Or Gusts Of 58 Mph Or Stronger May Occur.

High Wind Warning In Effect From 6 PM This Evening To 4 AM Wednesday

 

Note: The image may not reflect the current alert state for your county, click the image to visit the weatherbug site for local weather alerts.

The National Weather Service In Seattle Has Issued A High Wind Warning…Which Is In Effect From 6 PM This Evening To 4 AM Pst Wednesday. The High Wind Watch Is No Longer In Effect.

• Some Affected Locations…Westport…Ocean Shores…Pacific Beach…Hoquiam And Aberdeen.
• Timing…Winds Will Increase This Afternoon. By Late This Evening Some Points Could Experience High Wind For A Few Hours.
• Wind…South Wind Of 30 To 40 Mph With Gusts To 60 Mph Are Possible.
• Impacts…Winds Of These Speeds Can Knock Down Trees And Large Tree Branches. Scattered Power Outages Are Possible.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions…
A High Wind Warning Means That A Hazardous Wind Event Is Imminent Or Occurring.

Strong storm to impact Southwest Washington region

South Bend, WA – The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland has issued a High Wind Warning for the South Washington Coast. The strongest storm system so far this winter will bring strong wind to our region. The warning is effective from 4:00 p.m. tonight to 10:00 p.m. Saturday. The NWS is forecasting sustained south winds of 35-40 mph, with gusts to 60-75 mph.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland has also issued a High Surf Warning for the South Washington Coast in effect from 4:00 p.m. Saturday to 10:00 a.m. Sunday. The peak surf Saturday evening coincides with high tide and there is potential for some minor coastal flooding.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions:

A High Wind Warning means that a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. Sustained winds of 40 mph or more or gusts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage.

A High Surf Warning means that dangerously high surf will batter beaches in the advisory area, producing deadly rip currents and minor beach erosion.  Dangerous surf may move large debris items like logs up to beaches. Avoid walking on jetties, rocks, coastal cliff, and along the water’s edge.

Please visit the NWS website at http://www.weather.gov/portland for the most up to date weather information. This page brings up all advisories, watches, and warnings for the Southwest Washington area.

Variety of weather hazards likely to affect western Washington through Saturday night

SYNOPSIS:

Two strong and fast moving frontal systems will move across Western Washington tonight and early Saturday morning. These fronts will be followed by a period of strong westerly flow to the south of a storm system moving into British Columbia Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. There is a threat of strong winds, heavy rainfall, minor flooding on more flood-prone rivers, heavy mountain snowfall, and coastal flooding over portions of the area tonight through Saturday night.

HEADLINES:

1. A High Wind Watch is in effect for tonight through Saturday for the north and central Washington coast and for the Admiralty Inlet area.

2. A winter storm watch is in effect late tonight through Saturday night for the Cascades and Olympics above 2000 feet.

3. A flood watch is in effect for Mason, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties late tonight through late Saturday night.

4. A coastal flood watch is in effect for the north and central Washington coast Saturday afternoon through late Saturday night.

Chuck Wallace with the Grays Harbor Emergency Management agency tells us some of the watches may be converted to Warnings or Advisories during the day on Friday, so keep a close eye on latest forecast updates from the National Weather Service.

FORECAST SPECIFICS:

1. Concerning the threat of strong wind: South winds will increase tonight across all of western Washington and will turn to the west on Saturday. Across most of the lowland areas, winds are expected to range from 20 to 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Damaging winds to 40 mph with gusts to 55 mph, from both the south and the west, are possible on the coast and around the Admiralty Inlet area.

2. Concerning the threat of heavy rainfall and possible flooding: Rain will develop today and will become heavy at times tonight through early Saturday. The snow level in the mountains will increase from around 3500 feet to over 6000 feet tonight then will fall back to 3000 feet on Saturday. During the warmer period tonight, rainfall amounts of 4-6 inches are likely in the Olympics and 3-5 inches in the Cascades. This amount of rain will cause rapid rises on area rivers, and more flood prone rivers like the Skokomish, Stillaguamish, Tolt, and Puyallup could see minor flooding late tonight into Saturday or Saturday night.

3. Concerning the threat of heavy mountain snow: Precipitation in the mountains above about 3000 or 3500 feet will begin as snow today. Snow levels will rapidly rise to 5000 feet in the northern Cascades and to around 6500 feet in the central Cascades and Olympics. Snow levels will fall back to 3000 feet on Saturday and 2000 feet Saturday night. Five to ten inches of snow are likely Saturday with another foot on Saturday night. The mountain snow will be accompanied by windy conditions. It will be particularly windy on exposed mountain ridges in the back country.

4. Concerning coastal flooding: An area of storm force winds offshore will produce 25 to 30 foot waves that will move onto the Washington coast Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. While tides are expected to be relatively low during the large wave event, there is a potential that large and energetic waves will give some flooding to low-lying coastal communities like Westport, portions of Ocean Shores, and La Push. The large waves will produce dangerous surf and beach erosion.

CONFIDENCE:

Concerning strong wind: confidence is high that very windy conditions will develop across the area. Confidence in the potential for damaging wind on the coast and in the Admiralty Inlet Area tonight and Saturday is slightly lower. If a weaker low, as forecast by some forecast models, tracks north of Vancouver Island, it will get windy but the wind speeds will remain below 40 mph.

Concerning heavy rain: Confidence is high that around 4 inches of rain will fall tonight into early Saturday in the Olympics and up to 3 inches will fall in the Cascades. If the air mass remains cooler over the northern Cascades, minor flooding will be less likely north of King County. If rainfall amounts overnight are higher, some rivers could see moderate flooding.

Concerning heavy mountain snow: Confidence is high that a period of heavy snow will occur in the Cascades Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. The confidence of heavy snowfall in the Olympics around Hurricane Ridge is lower. If the air mass remains slightly cooler tonight in the northern Cascades than what is currently expected, there is a threat of heavy snowfall around Mount Baker tonight in addition to the heavy snowfall Saturday and Saturday night.

4. Concerning coastal flooding: At this time it appears that the highest threat of big waves hitting the coastline is late Saturday afternoon and Saturday night during a period of lower tides. There is a risk that the offshore storm will be stronger and farther south than currently expected, waves will move in a few hours sooner, and that waves will be bigger than currently expected. If this occurs, the threat of coastal flooding in low lying beach communities will be higher.