Snohomish County residents urged to help prevent flooding

Falling leaves on schedule to clog gutters and drains
Oct 22, 2012

People aren’t the only ones stressed by nasty weather. Trees react to weather, too, and when they do they shed their leaves.

That annual botanical event frequently coincides with one of Western Washington’s big fall storms —instantly clogging gutters and storm drains and bringing localized flooding.

This year, trees are “pretty much on schedule” to dump their leaves within the next week or two, according to Sarah Reichard, director of the University of Washington’s Botanic Gardens and director of the 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum.

“Leaves are already beginning to lose their connection to the trees,” Reichard said. “A big windstorm could blow them all down.”

Take Winter By Storm — a regional campaign to help people get prepared before bad weather strikes — is urging Western Washington residents to lend a helping hand to control stormwater in their yards and neighborhoods.

Although utility crews work hard to clear street drains and culverts, there are thousands of drainage structures in the region — in unincorporated Snohomish County, greater than 27,300 storm drains and catch basins exist, in addition to the many city-owned storm drains.

A big fall storm can bring more work than crews can handle.

When neighbors pitch in and clear a clogged storm drain, they are helping to protect their neighborhood from flooding.

Among the steps residents and businesses can take to get ready for the storm season are:

  • Adopt a local street drain. Help prevent flooding in your neighborhood by keeping drains free of debris.
  • Maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels, private culverts — by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.
  • Know the emergency hotline number for your local drainage utility to report sewer backups, major flooding and landslide issues. In Snohomish County, the number for reporting flooding issues related to storm drains and catch basins is 425-388-7500.
  • Visit the Take Winter By Storm website,, for a downloadable house maintenance checklist which includes a number of other weatherization tips.

According to the UW’s Reichard, trees are genetically programmed to lose their leaves.

Certain factors can cause trees to lose their leaves faster—such as day length and night temperatures—but summer droughts or cold weather are particularly stressful.

Vine maples, for example, are particularly sensitive to that stress. “They will start losing their leaves early this year due to our really dry summer,” Reichard said. “However, we can expect that most trees will have shed their leaves by mid-November.”

But she noted that there are always some trees that are laggardly about releasing their foliage, so it’s a good idea to check your drains several times throughout the fall.

The Take Winter By Storm campaign is a collaborative, public-private effort spanning Western Washington that includes the City of Seattle, King County, Puget Sound Energy, State Farm, NOAA’s National Weather Service, American Red Cross and Bartell Drugs.

These organizations – which represent Washington state’s largest city emergency management offices and energy utilities, as well as weather forecasters, first responders, the leading insurer of homes and automobiles, and local businesses – have joined forces in the major multi-media public awareness campaign to raise community awareness of hazardous weather and encourage behaviors that help protect lives and property.

The Take Winter By Storm website,, is a one-stop emergency preparedness information hub that includes safety tips and regional resources related to high winds, heavy rain, snow, freezing conditions, power outages, flooding and more.

For more information on the Take Winter by Storm campaign:

Ø   Visit online:

Ø   Like on Facebook: Take Winter By Storm

Ø   Follow on Twitter: @WinterByStorm, #stormready, #winterprep

Ø   View on YouTube: Take Winter By Storm


About Take Winter By Storm

The Take Winter By Storm campaign is made possible by the following Partners:  Bartell Drugs, City of Seattle, King County, Puget Sound Energy and State Farm; Sponsors:  Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and Snohomish PUD.

Community Supporters:  City of Bellevue Office of Emergency Management and Pierce County; and Participating Supporters:  American Red Cross, City of Seattle Department of Planning & Development, Goodwill, King County Flood District, NOAA/National Weather Service, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.


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