Natural Hazards

Washington faces nine natural hazards:

  • Avalanches - Avalanches have killed more than 190 people in the past century, exceeding deaths from any other natural cause.
  • Drought - In the past century, Washington State has experienced a number of drought episodes, including several that lasted for more than a single season.
  • Earthquake - More than 1,000 earthquakes occur in Washington each year. A dozen or more are felt; occasionally, they cause damage.
  • Flood - Damage from flooding exceeds damage by all other natural hazards in Washington State.
  • Landslide - Landslide is the movement of rock, soil and debris down a hillside or slope. Landslides take lives, destroy homes, businesses, and public buildings, interrupt transportation, undermine bridges, derail train cars, cover clam and oyster beds, and damage utilities.
  • Severe Storm - All areas of Washington State are vulnerable to severe weather. A severe storm is an atmospheric disturbance that results in one or more of the following phenomena: strong winds, large hail, thunderstorm, tornado, rain, snow, or freezing rain.
  • Tsunami - The Pacific Coast, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and large lakes are at risk from tsunamis, trains of powerful waves that threaten people and property along shorelines.
  • Volcano - Washington has five major volcanoes – Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. The risk posed by volcanic activity is not always apparent, as volcanoes can lie dormant for centuries between eruptions.
  • Wildland Fire - Short-term loss caused by wildland fire can include the destruction of timber, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, and watersheds, and increase vulnerability to flooding . Long-term effects include smaller timber harvests, reduced access to affected recreational areas, and destruction of cultural and economic resources and community infrastructure.

  • Play "Living with Fire", an educational game that puts you in the place of a fire manager. (Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory)
  • "Stop Disasters" is a disaster simulation game focused on applying simple measures to save lives and limit damage when natural hazards strike.  (UN/ISDR)


© Copyright 2014 Washington Military Department - Emergency Management Division
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