The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Volcano Views and Brews

The Mount St. Helens Institute Presents:
A Special Volcano Views and Brews
co-hosted by the City of Vancouver's Water Resources Education Center
Major Dynamic Floods in the Portland-Vancouver Area 
Missoula Floods, Vanport Flood of 1948, and the 1996 Flood 
with Portland State University Geology Professor Emeritus 
Dr. Scott Burns
*Special Location - Water Resouces Education Center*
**note this is the only Views and Brews in February**
This unique event celebrates the Institute's and Water Resouces Education Center's shared 20th anniversaries and remembers the historic flood of 1996 that occurred mere weeks before the Water Center's opening! Attendees are also encourage to view the Vanport and Columbia River floods exhibit on the first floor of the Water Center. Food and beverages (non-alcoholic and beer) will be available for purchase.
Lecture Description
The Portland-Vancouver area has been shaped by many floods over several million years. The majority of the landforms were formed in a series of 40 floods that brought water into the area at velocities over 50 mph and shaped the area. Major erosional valleys, pendant bars of sediments, and deposits owe their origin to these floods called the Missoula Floods. Much of the talk will be about these events which are some of the greatest geological happenings in North America's history. In 1948, an incredible flood caused the flooding of Oregon's second largest city, Vanport, which was in the Columbia River Flood Plain. And finally, in 1996, the area had another rain on snow event that caused a huge set of floods in the area. Come hear Prof. Scott Burns of Portland State University talk about these three major floods.
Scott Burns Biography
Scott is a Professor Emeritus of Geology and Past-Chair of the Dept. of Geology at Portland State University where he just finished his 25th year of teaching. He was also Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at P.S.U. from 1997-1999. He has been teaching for 45 years, with past positions in Switzerland, New Zealand, Washington, Colorado and Louisiana. He is a 6th generation Oregonian who grew up in Beaverton. Scott specializes in environmental and engineering geology, geomorphology, soils, and Quaternary geology. In Oregon, he has assisted with projects involving landslides and land use, environmental cleanup of service stations, slope stability, earthquake hazard mapping, Missoula Floods, paleosols, loess soil stratigraphy, radon generation from soils, the distribution of heavy metals and trace elements in Oregon soils and alpine soil development. He has been active in mapping landslides in the Pacific Northwest since his return to Portland. He has authored over 100 publications, including "Cataclysms on the Columbia, the Great Missoula Floods." He is also well known for his long history studying wine and terroir - the relationship between wine, soils, geology and climate.
Upcoming Events
Vancouver and Longview-
with author Steve Olson.

Portland- TBA
About Volcano Views and Brews
This popular lecture series about volcanic topics began in 2007 and continues every month. Fascinating topics, lively speakers as well as excellent food and libations make for an enjoyable and horizon-widening evening.
When and Where
Special Location!
Tuesday, February 16
4600 SE Columbia Way
Vancouver, WA 
$5 suggested donation 
Doors at 5:00pm, presentation at 6:30pm
Food and beverages (non-alcoholic and beer) will be available for purchase
All ages welcome 
How much?
The $5 suggested donation 
allows us to offer these talks!
The Mount St. Helens Institute is dedicated to advancing the understanding and stewardship of the earth through science, education and exploration of volcanic landscapes.
The Mount St. Helens Institute is proud to operate under a special use permit from the US Forest Service and is a equal opportunity education provider.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fire Safety

Most home fires occur in the kitchen while cooking and are the leading cause of injuries from fire. Common causes of fires at night are carelessly discarded cigarettes, sparks from fireplaces without spark screens or glass doors, and heating appliances left too close to furniture or other combustibles. These fires can be particularly dangerous because they may smolder for a long period before being discovered by sleeping residents.
Home fires are preventable! The following are simple steps that each of us can take to prevent a tragedy.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Do not cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet around the stove.
  • Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside. Most home fires caused by smoking materials start inside the home. Put your cigarettes out in a can filled with sand.
  • Make sure cigarettes and ashes are out. The cigarette really needs to be completely stubbed out in an ashtray. Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
  • Check for cigarette butts. Chairs and sofas catch on fire fast and burn fast. Don't put ashtrays on them. If people have been smoking in the home, check for cigarettes under cushions.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
  • Be alert - don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.
Electrical and Appliance Safety
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely; never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
  • Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
Portable Space Heaters
  • Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
  • Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use in your community.
  • Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.
Fireplaces and Woodstoves
  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
  • Never burn trash, paper, or green wood.
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container outside the home.
  • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find. Instead, they should tell an adult immediately.
  • Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
  • Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cowlitz County Search and Rescue Donations

We've received lots of questions about phone and mail solicitations from Cowlitz County Search and Rescue. These are not from our group, they are from a third party fundraising organization and the dontation gets distributed around the state. To ensure that 100% of your donation goes to Cowlitz County Search and Rescue, please use their website: or call our office at 360 577-3130 for more information.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Storm Update from KLOG

Wind Wham

Posted on 22nd December 2015 at 09:38
Work continues on dozens of power outages and road blockages that were caused by yesterday’s windstorm in the local area, an event that downed trees all over Cowlitz County. PUD line crews and road crews have been on the move since about 1:30 yesterday afternoon, when the winds first hit. Large swaths of the county are still without power, and PUD officials say that it still may be several hours before repairs are complete. The latest numbers show that about 15,000 PUD customers got knocked out yesterday, and that number was cut to about 2,000 by this morning. Some of the damage resembled the 1962 Columbus Day storm, with trees falling onto houses and cars in multiple locations around the region. At this point, there are no reports of injury connected to this damage. The Cowlitz PUD says work is continuing as quickly and as safely as possible, to try and get power restored to everyone. City and county road crews are also working as quickly as possible to clear trees and limbs from the streets. Be aware and be patient as these crews work to restore electricity and road access.

The peak wind gust recorded in this area was 46 miles an hour, recorded at 2:15 pm at the Southwest Washington Regional Airport in Kelso. There was also a 46 mile-an-hour gust in Lexington, 34 miles an hour in Longview, 31 miles an hour in Kalama, 23 miles an hour in Castle Rock, 29 miles an hour at the station next to the Lewis and Clark Bridge, and 64 miles an hour up on Abernathy Mountain.
Longview was particularly hard-hit, with a number of large trees coming down; if a city-owned tree has come down onto your home or vehicle, you’re advised to call 442-5803 to file a report and to get on the list for removal. Trees in the planting strips along city streets are owned by Longview, and city crews will be responsible for their removal. Again, call 442-5803 if a City of Longview-owned tree came down onto your home or your vehicle.

There’s actually a name for yesterday’s weather event, which the Weather Service describes as “straight-line winds.” They say that these straight-line winds are generated by thunderstorms, but they aren’t associated with rotation, like a tornado. They’re associated with the “outflow and downdraft” components of a thunderstorm. NWS officials say that these winds can cause the same kind of damage as a tornado, but all of that damage falls in the same general direction. These winds are also called “Derechos,” and can be much more devastating than yesterday’s event.

Monday, December 21, 2015

What Are Straight Line Winds?

Wondering what on Earth that wind storm was all about today?  According to the National Weather Service, what we experienced is called "straight line winds."  To learn more about this weather phenomenon click here:

Recognizing Frostbite

Recognizing Frostbite

CDC FrostbiteThe official start of winter begins December 21, but some parts of the country are already experiencing severe winter weather. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. One of the most common problems is frostbite.
Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing, and most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Signs of frostbite include: 
·        White or grayish-yellow skin area;
·        Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy; and
·        Numbness. 
If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care immediately. If medical care is not available, follow these important tips from the CDC, including: 
·        Get into a warm room as soon as possible;
·        Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes, unless necessary. Doing so can increase the damage; and
·        Immerse the affected area in warm water. 
For more information about frostbite and how to prevent it, check out this video from the National Weather Service.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Updated Weather Forecast

The Department of Emergency Management attended another briefing from the National Weather Service today. They didn’t make any changes to the rainfall total, however, they did make a revision to their wind forecast.

The Lower Columbia area can expect gusty conditions beginning around 6:00 p.m. tonight and lasting until 2:00 a.m. Gusts are expected to be anywhere 30-45 mph. This is also when we can expect the period of heaviest rain. The rain will begin to taper off tomorrow.

The Cowlitz River was downgraded from “Flooding Possible” to “River to Monitor.”