Prepare for wild winds of October

“O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all...”

So wrote Robert Frost in his poem “October.” Recognizing vulnerability to winds and potential for other natural disasters in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed October to be “Washington State Disaster Preparedness Month.”

Along with the change of season, October usually marks the start of our wind and winter storm season. We had just a hint of that on Sept. 21 with the wind gusts peaking at 40 miles per hour at the Friday Harbor airport. The winds of October can be quite extreme, with record gusts of 113 mph in Bellingham during the Columbus Day storm in 1962. Another record storm occurred October 21, 1934 when gusts of 87 mph and 20 foot waves were recorded in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Strong Northwest windstorms have occurred from October through April with the majority striking in the winter between November and February.

Join the San Juan County/Friday Harbor Department of Emergency Management and residents throughout Washington in observation of Disaster Preparedness Month.

What can you do to be prepared? Here are some easy steps to start with:

• Review and renew your store of supplies – have seven days of easy to prepare food and water on hand.

• If you are planning trips, or will be away from your island home, arrange to have a neighbor check on your place in case of a winter cold snap and power outages that freeze pipes. Getting the water turned off can prevent damage and leaks in the water system.

• Have plenty of flashlights on hand and a corded phone. These will work in a power outage – and remember that the number to report an outage to OPALCO is 376-3599.

• Have a battery operated radio on hand.

• Sign up to receive Island Alerts at

In addition, October is named as “NOAA Weather Radio Month” and also marks the Great Washington Shakeout when residents of 37 states and British Columbia will participate in earthquake/tsunami drills.

You can find more information at the DEM website or contact the DEM office at 370-7612, 370-0587, or email


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