King County Office of Emergency Management
3511 NE 2nd Street
Renton, WA 98056
Main Phone: 206-296-3830
Toll Free: 800-523-5044
Enhanced 911 Program
E-911 program office
Hazards and disastersThese are the most common disasters that could strike the King County region. Click on topics to learn more about the effects of these hazards and what you can do to prepare and respond to them. Each section contains hazard-specific preparedness and response steps, along with links to related information.
Want to find out where natural hazards impact your community - check out the King County GIS Center's iMap system to get information on floodplains, liquefaction areas, earthquake faults, and more!
Hazards in King County
- Avalanches: An avalanche is a mass of loosened snow or ice that suddenly and swiftly slides down a mountain, often growing as it descends and collects additional material such as mud, rocks, trees and debris.
- Dam failures: There are 87 dams in King County that can impact flood-prone and other areas if they should fail.
- Droughts: Drought is a condition of climatic dryness which is severe enough to reduce soil moisture and water below the minimum necessary for sustaining plant, animal, and human life systems.
- Earthquakes: An earthquake is a naturally induced shaking of the ground. Earthquakes are caused by the fracture and sliding of rock within the Earth's crust.
- Extreme Heat: Prolong periods of high temperatures can lead to an increased danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Fire: King County experiences three types of fire threats: structure fires, forest fires and wildland/urban interface fires.
- Flooding: A flood is the inundation of normally dry land resulting from the rising and overflowing of a body of water.
- Hazardous materials releases: Hazardous material spills might cause the short or long-term evacuation of an area.
- Landslides: The term landslide refers to the down-slope movement of rock and soil masses.
- Pandemic Flu: A world-wide epidemic involving the spread of a flu virus which human beings have not been exposed to previously.
- Power and utility outages and energy shortages: King County's electricity infrastructure includes six hydroelectric plants, four coal-fired plants, and six oil and natural gas-fired plants.
- Radiation hazards: Potential causes of radiation emission include a nuclear detonation or an accident at a nuclear or research/medical facility that utilizes radiological materials.
- Severe storms: King County is subject to various local storms that affect the Pacific Northwest throughout the year, such as wind, snow, ice, and hail.
- Terrorism: Terrorism has been defined by the FBI as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government; the civilian population; or any segment of it, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
- Transportation accidents: King County transportation systems include air, rail, water and road - all of which provide services on a national, regional, and local basis.
- Tsunamis/seiches: Recent studies on the potential for a great Cascadia Subduction zone earthquake off the coastlines of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California indicate that local tsunami waves could reach nearby coastal communities within minutes.
- Volcanoes/volcanic eruptions: Both Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens are active volcanoes. Their potential eruption could be destructive to our residents, businesses, and infrastructure.
Other natural hazards
Learn what you can do to plan for emergencies before they happen - prepare your family and your business.