As Weather Warms, Waters Remain Dangerously Cold

“Both men in the canoe survived the accident, but they were within minutes of dying from hypothermia,” said Sergeant Jim Porter of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

Sudden immersion in cold water makes it difficult, if not impossible, for boaters to keep their heads above water and stay afloat. Boating fatality statistics have shown that wearing a lifejacket gives boaters the best chance of survival in the event of an accident, especially in cold water.

Small craft like kayaks, canoes and rafts are the most vulnerable to capsizing, but all boaters should be prepared and follow these guidelines:

  • Start enjoying boating the right way, with a course to develop skills and safe operation. Paddle sports instruction is offered by local clubs, outfitters and many park and recreation departments.
  • Always wear a properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Washington state requires all children 12 years of age and younger to wear a personal flotation device when boating.
  • Scout the condition of the lake, river or waters before getting underway.
  • Be a competent swimmer.
  • Be constantly alert for unexpected hazards.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs when boating or floating in a river. They dull important survival reflexes and impair decision-making skills.
  • Children should never boat or float a river without the close supervision of an adult.
  • Know and practice river rescue and self-rescue techniques. Going in the water is always a possibility. Be prepared.

The National Weather Service offers online weather and river information useful for trip planning at the following sites for the state of Washington:






For more information on water safety and drowning prevention, visit the following websites:

Coastal Marine Weather Presentation Next Month

MONTESANO, Wash. – What to know more about the weather and weather forecasts? Two National Weather Service Seattle forecasters will provide those answers and more at a special Coastal Marine Weather Presentation at Grays Harbor College, May 24th.

This is your chance to learn more from Jay Albrecht – Lead Forecaster, and Ted Buehner, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, both from the Seattle Forecast Office. On-line NWS web site demos will also be available and they can address questions you have always wanted to ask a meteorologist. Don’t miss this unique opportunity! – Grays Harbor Emergency Management Deputy Director Chuck Wallace

To register, contact Chuck Wallace at Grays Harbor County Emergency Management at or 360-249-3911.

What: Coastal Marine Weather Presentation
When: Thursday, May 24th, 6 PM
Where: Grays Harbor College, 2000 Building in Room 2250.
Who: Jay Albrecht, Lead Forecaster and Marine Program Manager, and Ted Buehner, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service Seattle

Tsunami Advisory for Washington, Warning for Oregon Coasts










Tsunami Warning – a tsunami warning is issued when a potential tsunami with significant widespread inundation is imminent or expected. Warnings alert the public that widespread, dangerous coastal flooding accompanied by powerful currents is possible and may continue for several hours after arrival of the initial wave.  Warnings also alert emergency management officials to take action for the entire tsunami hazard zone.  Appropriate actions to be taken by local officials may include the evacuation of low-lying coastal areas, and the repositioning of ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so.  Warnings may be updated, adjusted geographically, downgraded, or canceled. To provide the earliest possible alert, initial warnings are normally based only on seismic information. For an example of the National Weather Service (NWS) format tsunami warning CLICK HERE. For a warning cancellation, CLICK HERE.


Tsunami Advisory – a tsunami advisory is issued due to the threat of a potential tsunami which may produce strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near the water.  Coastal regions historically prone to damage due to strong currents induced by tsunamis are at the greatest risk. The threat may continue for several hours after the arrival of the initial wave, but significant widespread inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory.  Appropriate actions to be taken by local officials may include closing beaches, evacuating harbors and marinas, and the repositioning of ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so. Advisories are normally updated to continue the advisory, expand/contract affected areas, upgrade to a warning, or cancel the advisory. For an example of the NWS format tsunami advisory CLICK HERE.


Tsunami Watch – a tsunami watch is issued to alert emergency management officials and the public of an event which may later impact the watch area.  The watch area may be upgraded to a warning or advisory – or canceled – based on updated information and analysis. Therefore, emergency management officials and the public should prepare to take action.  Watches are normally issued based on seismic information without confirmation that a destructive tsunami is underway. For an example of the NWS format tsunami watch CLICK HERE.

High Wind Watch Issued for Grays Harbor County

MONTESANO, Wash. – The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a High Wind Watch for the North & Central Coasts for Thursday morning into Thursday Afternoon. Gusts to 60 mph are possible with the strongest winds expected in late morning into the early afternoon.


A High Wind watch Means Conditions are Favorable for Damaging winds. High winds Can topple Trees, Down Power Lines, And Damage Some Structures.

High Wind Warning for Pacific county

South Bend, Washington – The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland has issued a high wind warning near beaches and headlands which is in effect until noon today.  A high wind watch remains in effect from Thursday morning through Thursday afternoon.  


South winds 40 to 50 mph with gusts to 70 mph this morning and early afternoon at beaches and headlands with south winds of 35 mph with gusts to 55 mph in the coastal communities.  Winds will decrease later this afternoon as a cold front passes.  South wind is expected to increase again mid Thursday morning through Thursday afternoon reaching speeds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 65 mph at headlands and beaches and south wind 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 60 mph at coastal communities. 

Pacific County Power Outage

In addition, a minimum of one lane of Sandridge Road will be closed during repairs.


The National Weather Service has issued a Special Weather Statement indicating that late afternoon today showers are likely with the possibility of a thunderstorm.  The high will be near 43 degrees, and a 70% chance of precipitation.  Tonight the low will be around 32 degrees. 


Precautionary/Preparedness Actions:


Residents are advised to take measures as appropriate for cold weather including the safe use of alternative heat methods and consider the use of State Route 103 as an alternate route to their destination.

High Wind Warning CANCELED for North & Central Coast

The National Weather Service in Seattle has cancelled the High Wind Warning for the North & Central Coasts of Washington for Monday. High winds are still expected, the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management recommends that all citizens be alert for falling tree limbs and power lines and to be ready for possible power outages associated with strong wind gusts and rain conditions. Check your generators. DO NOT refuel portable generators or heaters indoors, and DO NOT run portable generators indoors.  NEVER go near downed power lines or tree limbs. DO NOT use your stove to heat your home. Become aware of the warning signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. 

High Wind Warning CANCELED for North & Central Coast






Doppler Weather Radar Coming to Grays Harbor

 It would be just in time too, forcasters tell us a neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation is expected next winter, which historically provides the most powerful coastal storms. As Mcdonnal tells us, the term Neutral year is a bit misleading;

[Audio 2]

Without influence from La Nina, or El Nino temperatures, Neutral years tend to be more active in terms of wind storms, flood events, and low elevation snow.


So by the start of the next storm season, we will finally be able to see the details of incoming storms and weather systems. This is fortunate–next year will probably be a neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) year…neither El Nino nor La Nina. Such years are the ones when the most powerful storms hit our region (but no guarantees storm lovers!!)

Now the details.
Doppler Location
First, the location of the radar is now public knowledge: Langley Hill in Grays Harbor County (see map). A wonderful location, with clear views out to the Pacific Ocean (see coverage map below for .5 degree elevation angle). And the radar will able to see the heavy precipitation on the windward side of the Olympics and over the Willapa Hills. The National Weather Service is close to signing the final paperwork for leasing that site.

Doppler ViewSecond, the National Weather Service now has our radar in hand. This is not a new radar, but one used for training purposes by the military (and the only one available) and identical to the radars used by the NWS over the rest of the country (known as the NEXRAD or WSR-88D radars). I was told it was “lightly used” , sort of like buying a used car from an elderly grandmother. It will be completely refurbished and updated before installation. Using a preexisting radar not only saves money, but the NWS folks know how to maintain and service it. They were nervous about getting a new radar–one different than the current network.

Dual PolarizationThird, our radar will be one of the first in the nation to be updated with dual-polarization. All the current radars are single polarization, which means the electromagnetic radiation it emits has only one orientation–horizontal (see figure). In dual polarization, two orientations (horizontal and vertical) are emitted and received. Why is this good? Well, by getting the two orientations all kinds of magic is possible—determining the shape and type of precipitation, getting a much better handle on the intensity of precipitation (especially in terrain), and more. Eventually all the NWS radars will have it, but this will be one of the first.

HeightFourth, our radar will be the ONLY one in the nation using a zero degree scan angle. Weather radars scan in two ways. First, they constantly turn in azimuth (0 to 360 degrees). During the first scan the antenna is directly at an angle .5 degree above the horizon. Then it does a scan at 1.0 degrees, then 1.5 degrees, etc. Here is a figure that shows you the height of the radar beams for the various scan angles close to the radar (up to 120 nautical miles, 220 km).Now the lowest scan is near the surface close to the radar, but get 100 km out and the beam is 1000 meters up in the air! And at 200 km out the beam is 2000 meters (over 6000 ft) above the surface. So you are missing what is happening lower down. These radars can view 300-400 km out, so you can miss a lot at low levels, particularly at a distance. And WE want to see as much as possible at low levels over the Pacific!


Several of us have pushed the NWS to do something special with this radar, allowing a zero degree angle, and they have agreed. This will allow us to see much farther out at low levels than normal and will be a boon for viewing weather out over the Pacific. Again, no other NWS radar in the country has this capability–hopefully our radar will inspire the NWS to try this elsewhere.

During the next few months, a lot of action will begin at the site. Trenching for utilities, putting down a concrete pad, erecting a building for the generator, putting up the tower, and more. The radar should be installed midsummer. By late September a local meteorological revolution will occur and for the first time one of the stormiest areas in the country will be able to see incoming storms. And folks in the coastal communities and those in the marine industries of the Washington Pacific coast will have what the rest of us have enjoyed for years…decent weather radar coverage, with all the safety and economic benefits. Finally, I should note that Senator Maria Cantwell deserves credit for getting the resources to make this happen.


With good radar coverage, incidents like the New Carissa grounding (on the Oregon Coast), will hopefully be less frequent.

Naselle River Gauge Buried

South Bend, Washington – The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency has been informed that the Naselle River measurement gauge is currently buried in silt and while transmitting data, readings cannot be relied upon to be accurate.  The gauge has indicated extremely high readings on several recent occasions when observations indicate that river levels are in actuality, going down. 


The National Weather Service, Portland Office has been in contact with the U.S. Geological Survey, the agency that installed and maintains the gauge, and the USGS has indicated that repairs will be made the week of January 23, 2011.  In addition, the USGS has indicated that the gauge is scheduled to be replaced mid-2011.   When replaced, the gauge will also be moved to a new location. 


The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency encourages all residents to be aware of rising river levels and prepared for potential flooding.  The Naselle River level can be monitored (upon repair of the gauge) online at   Flood preparedness tips are available on the PCEMA webpage at