Severe storms in Thurston County can take many forms, including winter storms, thunderstorms and even tornadoes. The most destructive storms in Western Washington typically occur in the fall and winter months, causing significant property damage, power loss, and disruption of critical services. High winds, heavy rain, heavy snow, freezing rain, tornadoes, hail and lightning can occur as isolated events or delivered consecutively over the course of a single weather event.
Heavy rainfall produced in a relatively short time period can often exceed the capacity of natural and man-made stormwater drainage systems leading to flooding. Excessive rainfall can also lead to erosion and saturate steep slopes, making them more susceptible to landslides.
During winter storms fueled by cold arctic air, heavy precipitation can form into snowfall or freezing rain, causing significant impacts to transportation networks for several days and hazardous driving conditions. Excessive snow and ice loads on structures, utility lines and trees can cause them to collapse, leading to significant damage and prolonged disruption of utility services.
High winds, those above 30 mph, have the potential to cause widespread damage and those above 50 mph can lead to more serious damage. During or following a winter storm, high winds can topple trees in soils saturated by heavy rain or snow, causing damage to structures, blocking roads and damaging power lines.
Although rare in Western Washington, large thunderstorms can create conditions to form a tornado, high speed rotating winds capable of ripping apart buildings, fences, street signs, and vegetation. Thunderstorms also often bring with them lighting than can start wildfires, split trees, and disrupt power transmissions. Lighting can also strike people out in the open or under an isolated tree, causing burns, paralysis, or even death.
National Weather Service Forecast Office
Your local National Weather Service Forecast Office is responsible for monitoring weather conditions and issuing forecasts and warnings for the County and surrounding areas. This includes issuing watches, warnings, and advisories for severe weather events such as winter storms, thunderstorms, high winds and tornadoes. Visit the NWS Forecast Office website to view forecast weather conditions, watches, warnings and advisories.
Winter Storm Response
Thurston County Public Works serves a pivotal role in winter storm response. When inclement weather strikes, the Public Works department is prepared to respond and keep your county roads open. Visit the Public Works Winter Storm Response page for more information.
Sign up For Weather Alerts to be Sent Directly to Your Phone
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StormReady is a voluntary program administered by the National Weather Service to help communities better prepare for extreme weather events. Visit our Thurston County StormReady page for more info.