natural disaster

Mt. Rainier peeks between two houses in Orting, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

When geologist Carolyn Driedger talks about Mount Rainier, she feels like she’s trash-talking.


The upper loop trail in Seward Park, where a tree fell on a BMW station wagon. Eric Medalle, 42, was killed; his toddler daughter was in the backseat and survived.
Seattle Fire Department

The tree that fell onto a car in Seward Park in a windstorm last month was rotten. 

Eric Medalle, 42, a father of two, was killed almost instantly. His toddler was in the back seat but wasn't badly injured.

R
Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters

It's six years since an earthquake devastated Haiti, and killed at least 200,000 people.

In the immediate aftermath, the world rallied and pledged enormous amounts of assistance and development aid. But in Haiti today there is anger about the promises that have fallen short.

The UN estimates that about $10 billion was pledged, and about half of that has been spent.

A scene from a simulation by the Washington State Department of Transportation of what could happen if a massive earthquake hits the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
YouTube/WSDOT

You know a major earthquake in Seattle is possible – there was that scary New Yorker article this year with the headline: "The Really Big One."

Now you’ve got a new online tool to help you prepare.

1962: Remembering The Deadly Columbus Day Storm

Oct 12, 2015
Columbus Day Storm damage at 30th Avenue and East Spruce Street. The photo was taken Oct. 15, 1962, three days after the storm struck.
Seattle Municipal Archives

A lot of strange things happened in October 1962.

In Hollywood, Bobby "Boris" Pickett topped the charts with “Monster Mash.” In New York, James Brown recorded his incredible "Live at the Apollo" album. And in Cuba, offensive missile sites were being built, marking the start of the Cuban missile crisis.

Closer to home, the Pacific Northwest was about to face one of the most destructive natural disasters in American history.

There are a lot of stories to tell about New Orleans.

There are uplifting stories about new houses, new shops and gigantic drainage projects. There are melancholy stories about everything residents lost in Hurricane Katrina, about all that can never be recovered. There are stories about all that remains to be done, 10 years after the hurricane and the levee failures.

And, throughout it all, there are love stories.

Want to hear one?

'It Was Still Mardi Gras'

On Memorial Day, May 30, 1948, a dike at Vanport, Ore., broke and the flood engulfed the nearby Portland Air National Guard Base.
Oregon Air National Guard

Jeannie Yandel talks to Shawn Daley, chief innovation officer and assistant professor of education at Concordia University in Oregon, about the lost town of Vanport, Oregon.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Early warnings for earthquakes already occur in Japan, and they’re being piloted in California. Now the University of Washington hopes to bring them to the Northwest.

The Washington state education department has released a report detailing the natural disaster risks for schools across the state.

Along with familiar risks like earthquakes and wildfires, the list of natural disasters that threaten Washington schools includes things you may not have known to worry about.

Like tsunami indundation in Seattle.

In Auburn and Puyallup, it’s lahars – mud flows from volcanic eruptions.

The Oso landslide, with 41 dead and two still missing, could be the the third-worst natural disaster in Washington history after the Stevens Pass Avalanche of 1910 and the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

It's no question the weather's been brutal for some communities, including Washington, Ill., a town of 15,000 in the central part of the state. When a tornado ripped through the area last November three people died and more than a thousand homes were damaged.

KUOW Photo/Phyllis Fletcher

Marcie Sillman checks in with U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, who serves the 1st Congressional District, about helping on the scene of the Oso mudslide.

The Titanic
Courtesy of George Behe's Collection

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Most people who boarded the luxury ocean liner didn’t survive the trip. For some, the only thing separating survival and drowning was a split-second decision.

Now, 100 years after the tragedy, a Seattle woman wonders what she would do if she had been in her relative's shoes on the night of the sinking.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Chances are, you've heard the public service announcements that say "It's up to you to be ready. Get a kit. Make a plan..."

For years, emergency managers have urged people to stockpile enough food, water and supplies to last 72 hours after a disaster. In the Northwest, basic assumptions like that are now under scrutiny, especially when it comes to the risk from a big earthquake. Two committees in Oregon and Washington have been working for more than a year to come up with wide-ranging recommendations to improve the region's disaster resilience.

As millions of people in the northeast remain living without power, we are reminded of the importance of disaster preparedness. Ross Reynolds talks with emergency preparedness training specialist, Debbie Goetz, about what to have in your disaster preparedness kit