Print this Page  
City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Lessons learned from December 2006 windstorm will help improve Seattle's emergency response

2/27/2007  9:00:00 AM
Cornell Amaya (206) 386-1170

Lessons learned from December 2006 windstorm
will help improve Seattle’s emergency response

Nickels sends December Storm After Action Report to City Council

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels today released a detailed review of the city’s response to the historic December 2006 windstorm and pledged to implement all of the report’s key recommendations to help prepare even more effectively for future emergencies.

The 55-page December Storm After Action Report examines what worked well and provides lessons learned - information key to improving Seattle’s emergency response capabilities. The report, which will be sent to the City Council, was developed by the departments and individuals who actually worked during and after the storm.

The windstorm was a 100-year event that tested nearly all of the city’s resources. Nickels views the report as an important tool to help the city be better prepared for similar future emergencies.

“I am very proud of the way city government responded during this storm - a truly unprecedented showing of nature’s force,” Nickels said. “I congratulate the men and women who worked tirelessly against incredible challenges to pull our city back up from one heck of a punch. This report, and the recommendations it contains, will help us toward our goal of making Seattle the nation’s most prepared city for emergences and disasters.”

The report details key practices that worked well during the city’s response, such as:

  • Extraordinary efforts to remove trees, restore power, clear roads and repair traffic signals; and
  • Going door to door to hand deliver 20,000 information leaflets on how to cope with the power outage and deal with the cold temperatures, including where city shelters were located.

The report also details lessons learned and plans for improvement, such as:

  • More time needs to be spent preparing for severe weather before it hits. For example, operational staff meet annually to prepare before the first winter storm arrives. Senior managers would benefit from annual training to ensure they stay current on all aspects of the city’s emergency response. To accomplish this, Seattle will hold annual “tabletop” exercises.

  • There needs to be one number for the public to call for assistance during an emergency.

  • City Light will develop an outage management system to better track locations and durations of outages.

  • Seattle opened four emergency shelters during the wind storm, which appeared adequate for this storm. However, city staff had to operate these shelters because Red Cross staff were stretched thin. The city will work with partners, such as the Red Cross and the School District, to be able to provide and staff more emergency shelters to ensure additional shelter capacity would be available if needed.

  • Seventeen of the Seattle Fire Department’s 33 fire stations lost power initially; only four of those 17 had pad-mounted standby generators. The rest relied on either City Light restoring service or portable generators. As a result, Seattle will provide emergency generators for all its fire stations.

Visit the mayor’s Web site at Get the mayor’s inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

Read the December Storm After Action Report - Acrobat PDF

- 30 -

Office of the Mayor

Back to News Release Home Page and News Release Search