After the driest summer on record, with only 0.5 inches of rain falling between June 21 and Sept. 21, Seattle saw its first storm in months. Oct. 21 brought 0.31 inches of rain that increased to a high of 0.85 inches on Oct. 31.
Storms bring heavy rains, winds and the possibility of flooding. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, “There is over an 80 percent chance that 10 or more flood events will happen in any given year in the state.” When flooding and rain occur, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe.
To prevent flooding, you can rake fallen leaves and sticks in your yard before they get clogged in storm drains. You can also rake the leaves and debris from on top of storm drains to allow water to flow through. In the winter, you can remove snow and ice from storm drains and clear a channel for runoff blocked by snow or debris.
When driving, slow down and watch your speed in areas with low visibility. Drivers should increase the distance between themselves and the car in front of them, allowing more time to slow down in an emergency. Additionally, drivers should keep the headlights on at all times, day or night, and regularly check tire tread, tire pressure, brakes and windshield wipers.
Bellevue College’s Department of Public Safety recommends students practice defensive driving when commuting to campus. This means drivers should consider that even though they are driving safely, others may not be. So, they should try to be aware of those people to avoid getting into an accident with them.
When walking outside, use an umbrella to keep the rain off you, help you see better and make yourself more visible to cars. You should also wear bright or reflective clothing to help avoid a pedestrian accident. Be sure to follow all traffic laws like using a sidewalk, crossing at a crosswalk when the signal indicates, and yielding to vehicles when not crossing in a designated area.
BC’s Department of Public Safety suggests that students and employees use the sidewalks and crosswalks whenever they’re walking on campus. It’s also important for people to “look up!” and not “walk around campus staring down at your phone.” Listening to loud music and using headphones can also be distracting, which puts you at risk.
Follow these precautions during the next few months of rainy weather in Washington to stay safe. If you’re in an unsafe flooding situation or accident, contact 911.