Weather and Climate
Snohomish County enjoys a moderate year-round climate with average temperatures ranging from about 75 degrees in July to about 33 degrees in January. The Olympic Mountains to the west, across Puget Sound, shelter the area from excessive precipitation coming off the Pacific Ocean. Annual precipitation in the western part of the county is 35 inches but increases sharply as the elevation climbs into the Cascades Mountains.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers.
The Emergency Management Division is part of the Washington State Military Department. The EMD is the official emergency preparedness department, combining state and federal resources for homeland defense, homeland security and emergency mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities. Its website provides information on creating an emergency plan and emergency kit, pet preparedness and disaster preparedness for schools. For more information about local disaster preparedness, visit www.snohomishcountywa.gov/180/Emergency-Management or http://mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division.
Another great resource for natural disaster and severe weather information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/disasters. Here you can find information on how to prepare for various weather emergencies.
The following are considered significant hazards in Washington.
Washington, especially the Puget Sound basin, has a history of frequent earthquakes. More than 1,000 earthquakes occur in the state each year, and a dozen or more are strong enough for people to feel the ground shaking. It is important to be prepared for earthquakes before they occur. Identify potential hazards in your home. Secure top-heavy furniture to a wall. Use earthquake putty on hanging pictures and mirrors. Secure objects on shelves that could become projectiles during an earthquake.
In case of an earthquake, remember: Drop, cover and hold on. If you are not near a table or desk, drop to the floor against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors and other objects that could fall.
For more tips on earthquake safety, visit the Emergency Management Division’s web page at www.mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/hazards/earthquake.
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Even beyond coastal regions, flash floods, inland flooding and seasonal storms affect every region of the country, damaging homes and businesses. It is dangerous to underestimate the force and power of water.
During a flood watch or warning, gather your emergency supplies and stay tuned to local radio or TV stations for further weather information. If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in floods occur when people drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
For more safety information, visit Washington’s Emergency Management Division website at www.mil.wa.gov/emergency-management-division/hazards/flood.
Strong winds and large hail, thunderstorms, tornados, rain, snow or other mixed precipitation are not uncommon in Washington, with most moving in from the Pacific Ocean. Typically, a severe storm can snarl transportation and knock out utilities.
While more likely at certain times of the year, thunderstorms can happen anytime. A severe thunderstorm can knock out power; bring high winds, lightning, flash floods and hail; and spin into a twister in seconds. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 rule: People should seek shelter if the “flash-to-bang” delay — length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its subsequent thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap.
For more safety information, visit https://tinyurl.com/y8h4754e.
The wildfire season in Washington usually begins in early July and typically culminates in late September when regular rain returns to the Pacific Northwest. However, wildfires have occurred in every month of the year. The majority of wildfires are caused by humans. Causes include arson, recreational fires that get out of control, negligently discarded cigarettes and debris burning. Natural causes like lightning can also cause a wildfire.
If your home is in an area prone to wildfires, you can mitigate your risk. Have an evacuation plan and maintain a defensible area that is free of anything that will burn, such as wood piles, dried leaves, newspapers and other brush.
Even if your home is not in the vicinity of a wildfire, the smoke and ash produced by wildfires can create air quality issues for hundreds of miles. Pay attention to local air quality reports following a wildfire in your area.
Wildfires are unpredictable and impossible to forecast so preparation is especially important. Visit www.snohomishcountywa.gov/3629/Wildfire-Preparedness for information on wildfire preparedness.