All News

Posted on: December 29, 2016

Mount Rainier Lahar Warning System receives first phase of enhancements

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has identified Mount Rainier as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and Pierce County is taking steps to improve the warning system to keep residents safe.


Lahars (volcanic mudflows), are the primary hazard during eruptions of Mount Rainier. They are formed by the melting of snow and ice during eruptions and from large landslides.


Pierce County Department of Emergency Management (PCDEM), in partnership with the USGS, has completed the first phase of a multi-phase plan to upgrade and expand equipment for the Mount Rainier Lahar Warning System (LWS). The current system is functioning well, but these improvements will enable PCDEM, USGS, and other partners to provide better and timelier life-safety information to the people that live, work, and play in the areas around Mount Rainier.


The LWS is part of an overall emergency communications system for Pierce County. The focus of the system is to detect volcanic and seismic activity on Mount Rainier and warn residents in the Puyallup and Carbon river drainages of the need to evacuate due to a lahar or other related volcanic activity.


After the 2014 State Route 530 Landslide in Snohomish County, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy asked for a risk and readiness review of the LWS to ensure it provides as much warning as possible to the residents of the river valleys fed by Mount Rainier. The planned updates to the instrumentation will provide technological upgrades to the detection monitors close to Mount Rainier. These monitors detect debris flows and provide advanced warning to residents downstream.


Executive McCarthy praised members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation for their efforts to raise awareness of the danger that a Mount Rainier lahar presents and to advocate for additional resources to create a more effective and robust system. “Senators Murray and Cantwell and Congressman Kilmer have been instrumental in advocating for funding of the needed upgrades,” said McCarthy. “On behalf of the over 830,000 residents of Pierce County and the nearly 3 million people that live in close proximity to what USGS has categorized as the most dangerous volcano in North America, I want to express a heartfelt thank you.”


It is anticipated that USGS and PCDEM will continue working on the next phase of the upgrades in 2017. 


Mount Rainier has produced multiple lahars that traveled down the river valleys to the Puget Sound lowland. If this were to happen today, the communities in the river valleys, such as Orting, Sumner, Puyallup and Fife, could be completely destroyed, with loss of life in the tens of thousands. Interstate Highway 5 and the Port of Tacoma could also be out of service for an indefinite time with significant impact to the financial health of the Puget Sound Region.


In the early 1990s, USGS, in partnership with Pierce County, established the pilot project lahar early warning system in the Carbon and Puyallup River valleys. This system currently has five lahar sensors in each valley which are connected to 27 warning sirens around the larger communities downstream. Although the larger communities have sirens for early warning of a lahar, many other communities and popular gathering areas in the lahar hazard area do not have any sirens.



MEDIA CONTACT:

Sarah Foster, Public Information Officer

253-798-2204

sfoster@co.pierce.wa.us

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email

Other News in All News

County observes Labor Day, Sept. 4

Posted on: September 1, 2017

Excessive heat expected this week

Posted on: August 1, 2017

Aug. 1 Primary Election at-a-glance

Posted on: July 13, 2017

Countywide burn ban to begin July 15

Posted on: July 13, 2017

Pierce County Talks - July 2017

Posted on: July 3, 2017
Memorial Day image

County observes Memorial Day

Posted on: May 26, 2017

Candidate Filing Week begins May 15

Posted on: April 19, 2017

Veterans Advisory Board seeks members

Posted on: March 17, 2017

County observes Presidents' Day

Posted on: February 17, 2017

New Location for Budget and Finance

Posted on: January 3, 2017

Video News: 2016 Year in Review

Posted on: December 28, 2016

Treecycle your Christmas tree

Posted on: December 21, 2016

Road crews ready to respond to snow

Posted on: December 8, 2016

Pierce County Talks, July 2017

Posted on: July 3, 2017

Guidance for Social Security in 2017

Posted on: November 29, 2016

County observes Thanksgiving

Posted on: November 23, 2016

County observes Veterans Day

Posted on: November 10, 2016

County Council Meeting to be held in Fife

Posted on: September 27, 2016

Video News: Farming Special

Posted on: September 22, 2016

District Court early closure, Sept. 16

Posted on: September 7, 2016
Labor Day

County observes Labor Day, Sept. 5

Posted on: September 2, 2016

Heat advisory notice and options

Posted on: August 18, 2016

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: August 18, 2016

Tips for staying safe on 4th of July

Posted on: June 30, 2016

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: June 2, 2016

Grandparenting has a new look

Posted on: June 1, 2016

County observes Memorial Day

Posted on: May 27, 2016

Passing of Robin McKinney

Posted on: May 4, 2016

Jury duty scams on the rise

Posted on: April 8, 2016

Pierce County is looking to lease

Posted on: February 3, 2016

Board of Equalization seeks members

Posted on: January 13, 2016

Video News: Best of the last 10 years

Posted on: January 4, 2016

Video News: Best of 2015

Posted on: December 29, 2015
Treecycle image

Treecycle your Christmas tree

Posted on: December 22, 2015

Emergency Operations Center open

Posted on: December 9, 2015

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: December 7, 2015

County observes Veterans Day

Posted on: November 9, 2015

Video News: The Trails of Pierce County

Posted on: October 9, 2015
CPR_Flyer.jpg

Free CPR Sunday event at Foss High School

Posted on: September 23, 2015

Video News: Best of the U.S. Open

Posted on: September 11, 2015

Parks and Recreation Touch A Truck event

Posted on: September 8, 2015

County observes Labor Day

Posted on: September 4, 2015

Police help seniors to be safe at home

Posted on: September 2, 2015

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: July 28, 2015

Video News: Best of the U.S. Open

Posted on: July 16, 2015

Referendum qualifies for ballot

Posted on: July 10, 2015

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: July 6, 2015

County observes Independence Day

Posted on: July 2, 2015

Excessive heat advisory issued

Posted on: June 25, 2015

County observes Presidents' Day on Feb. 16

Posted on: February 13, 2015

Boundary Review Board seeks applicants

Posted on: February 12, 2015

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: February 9, 2015

Road work postponed on 66th Avenue East

Posted on: February 6, 2015

County observes MLK on Jan. 19

Posted on: January 16, 2015

Volunteer for Civil Service Commission

Posted on: January 9, 2015

Learn how to use Social Security

Posted on: December 30, 2014

Video News: Best of 2014 Special

Posted on: December 29, 2014

Tips to treecycle your Christmas tree

Posted on: December 22, 2014

Dementia: Setting the Record Straight

Posted on: November 3, 2014

District Court early closure on Sept. 12

Posted on: September 5, 2014

Your feet may be telling you something

Posted on: August 29, 2014

Video News: Farming Special

Posted on: August 28, 2014

Video News: Tourism Special

Posted on: July 24, 2014

County offices closed May 26

Posted on: May 26, 2013

Video News: Farming Special

Posted on: April 3, 2014

Pay your property taxes online

Posted on: March 18, 2014

Brookdale Road sewer project resumes

Posted on: March 7, 2014

County offices closed Feb. 17

Posted on: February 14, 2014

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: February 7, 2014

County offices closed Jan. 20

Posted on: January 17, 2014

County Council elects Dan Roach as chair

Posted on: January 14, 2014

Homeless Coalition seeks volunteers

Posted on: January 9, 2014

Video News: Aviation Special

Posted on: January 2, 2014

Video News: Best of 2013 Special

Posted on: December 20, 2013

Video News: 2013 Economic Special

Posted on: December 20, 2013

Tips to treecycle your Christmas tree

Posted on: December 20, 2013

New levee will protect people, help salmon

Posted on: December 19, 2013

County offices closed Nov. 11

Posted on: November 8, 2013

Tips to prepare now for flood season

Posted on: November 4, 2013

Learn how to decipher Health Care Reform

Posted on: October 21, 2013
Pierce County Votes badge

‘I Voted’ badge goes digital

Posted on: October 17, 2013

PCTV wins 5 first-place programming awards

Posted on: September 27, 2013

Pet owners, avoid late fees in October

Posted on: September 16, 2013

Video News: Aviation Special

Posted on: September 5, 2013

Video News: Northwest Trek special

Posted on: August 29, 2013

Sheriff's Community Academy openings

Posted on: August 27, 2013

Grandparenting has a new look in 2013

Posted on: August 27, 2013

County offices closed July 4

Posted on: July 3, 2013

Video News: Aviation Special

Posted on: June 21, 2013

County offices closed May 27

Posted on: May 24, 2013

Home Safe on Cinco de Mayo

Posted on: May 10, 2013
L to R- Carrie Appling, Rebekah Vaughan, Maureen Sorenson, and Amber Hasler

Our CASAs are Superheroes

Posted on: April 23, 2013

PCTV earns 2 EMMY nominations

Posted on: April 18, 2013

Exporting creates jobs and profits

Posted on: April 3, 2013

Candidate workshop set for April 3

Posted on: March 26, 2013

County offices closed Feb. 18

Posted on: February 15, 2013

Learn the ins and outs of Medicaid

Posted on: January 23, 2013