This time of year brings increased risk of floods and landslides in Snohomish County. Both should be considered serious threats: they can cause injuries and death, in addition to damaging property.
Flooding kills approximately 95 people in the U.S. every year – half of these deaths result from vehicles being swept away by flood waters.
Floods can happen with or without warning. In our region of the country, the dangerous combination of warm temperatures, heavy rains and rapid snowmelt is potentially the most hazardous.
If you are in a flooded area:
- Pay attention to warnings, such as signage on the roadways, or radio and TV weather updates.
- Evacuate if directed.
- Do not wade through flood waters due to the danger of pollutants, debris and drowning.
- Do not drive through flood waters! As little as 12 inches of moving water can carry a vehicle away. Flood waters are often murky, hiding the hazards beneath the surface. Turn around, don’t drown!
For up-to-date information on flood conditions, check the National Weather Service, Snohomish County Real Time Flood Information System, Snohomish County Road Closure Information, and Washington State Road Closure Information websites. Sign up for AlertSense to receive weather alerts and local emergency alerts and warnings.
Landslides can occur suddenly, and while they are unpredictable, there are signs that the ground is shifting and may give way. Watch for:
- Cracks in the soil
- Tilted or bent trees
- Increased spring activity or newly wet ground
- Uneven terrain
- Sagging or taut utility lines
- Sunken or broken road beds
- Movement of soil away from foundations
- Leaking or broken water pipes
What to do:
- Pay attention to weather alerts calling for intense rainfall. Intense, short bursts of rain are particularly dangerous, especially after longer periods of heavy rainfall and damp weather.
- Listen for sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of mud or debris may precede larger landslides.
- Be alert when driving. Bridges may be washed out and culverts overtopped. Do not cross flooding streams! Roadside embankments are susceptible to landslides. Watch the road for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other debris.
- If you had to leave your home quickly, store important documents in one place so they are easy to grab in a hurry. Back up important documents electronically or store copies in a secure location.
- Call 911 to report a life threatening emergency.