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Washington Silver Jackets

The Washington Silver Jackets team formed in 2010 as a group of Federal and State agencies working together to address state flood risk priorities. The current makeup and operation of the team, however, has been intact since late 2014. USACE Seattle District facilitates coordination within the group. But the Silver Jackets is a state-driven program, and in Washington that means Department of Ecology (ECY) and Emergency Management Division (EMD) are the state co-leads. ECY and EMD house the state's NFIP Coordinator and Hazard Mitigation Officer, respectively. Other Federal and State partners are listed to the right under the Participating Agencies section.

The Washington team meets virtually about once per month, in addition to an annual face-to-face half-day workshop. It has been awarded seven interagency projects since 2013. Six of those projects are outlined below in the Team Activities section, while the seventh - "Whatcom County Econ and Flood Risk Assessment" is in the early stages and will be featured here in late 2018. Use the Contacts section to the right to get more details on any of the projects listed below. Each project, as well as the routine coordination and communication between Silver Jackets agencies, is intended to address state needs and ultimately improve flood risk management throughout the flood life cycle.

Team Activities

2018: Washington Silver Jackets Team Explores Climate Resilience in Flood Risk Management

The Washington Silver Jackets team is reaching out to floodplain and flood risk managers throughout the state in an effort for WA SJ partner agencies to help improve the incorporation of climate resilience in flood risk management. The team is asking floodplain managers statewide two critical questions: What is your community's greatest flood risk management concern related to a changing climate? And, how can agencies within the Silver Jackets group help address that concern?

The team is using feedback from the questions above to build products - like an online resources inventory and a funding programs guide - to assist communities with climate considerations in flood risk management planning. Included in the project is a 6-part webinar series presented by the Silver Jackets Team and guest speakers. The first four webinars in the series have been recorded. For descriptions and links to those presentations, continue reading here.....

Post-Wildfire Flooding Committee Takes Shape under WA Silver Jackets

The Post-Wildfire Flooding Committee (PWFC) originated in late 2016 after the devastating Washington wildfire seasons of 2014 and 2015. The PWFC is facilitated by the WA Silver Jackets Coordinator and operates in a similar fashion to the WA SJ team, but with post-wildfire coordination about flood risk being the central focus. Representatives at every level of government, plus non-profits, congressional offices, and academia have contributed expertise to the committee. The PWFC was funded in 2017 to build an outreach plan around the increased flood risks associated with wildfire. Since project initiation we have worked with long-term wildfire recovery groups to educate communities about flood risk, collaborated with federal agencies to build post-fire planning level floodmaps and other risk communication tools, and coordinated with state partners on technical analysis for post-fire FRM. The committee continues progress on a post-wildfire website, which will be going live in fall 2018. Keep an eye out on this page for a link soon!   

Study of Impacts of Fire on Runoff in the State of Washington

After suffering through a disaster caused by the devastating July 2015 Blue Creek fire that burned 10% or 6,500 acres of a parent watershed, questions arose from the federal, state, and local emergency managers.  What impact did this massive fire have on the increased runoff and sediment flow?  How could it impact the thousands of residents downstream? Continue reading

Washington Implements Rapid Assessment Flooding Tool

The Washington Silver Jackets Team has implemented the Rapid Assessment Flooding Tool (RAFT) for the state of Washington. The Oregon Silver Jackets team built the RAFT and implemented it in Oregon as a way to prepare for and catalog flood events (See the Oregon Silver Jackets page for more details). The Washington team followed suit in 2015 with USACE interagency project funding and rebuilt the Excel-based tool to fit Washington. The RAFT incorporates statewide gage and frequency data so that floodplain managers can access on-the-fly flooding severity based on forecasts or observed data. Though the RAFT to this point has mostly been used by Silver Jackets partners, it is very user friendly and can be operated with little instruction. The Silver Jackets team intends to rollout some opportunities to become familiar with the tool, but in the meantime, contact the Washington SJ Coordinator using the link on this page to demo a beta version of the RAFT.

Expanding on an Integrated Approach to Flood Risk Management and Ecosystem Restoration

The Washington Silver Jackets Team in 2014 was given funding to follow up on a previous 2013 project: Integrating Flood Risk Management and Salmon Habitat Restoration Priorities in the Puget Sound: An Early Opportunities Analysis (Early Opps). See below for details on the 2013 pilot project. The follow-up effort - Washington State River Basin Multi-Benefit Analysis (An Early Opps Sequel) - expands on the approach by focusing on multi-benefit opportunities and priorities on the basin scale, as opposed to the previous regional Puget Sound analysis. With floodplain units sorted, scored, and ranked at the basin scale for FRM and salmon habitat opportunities, decision makers can then compare target floodplain areas against each other at a more manageable scale. Additionally, the study collected dozens of project applications in 2016 from a variety of multi-benefit programs throughout the state, like the Floodplains-by-Design Program. The projects have been added to the geospatial scoring tools developed in the initial 2013 pilot project. Though the funds for the analysis have expired, there is still work to be done by the team to connect local decision makers with Silver Jackets partners funding programs when applying limited dollars to multi-benefit floodplain projects. In its most robust form, the Early Opps Sequel work will be used by state, local, and federal floodplain program managers to maximize value of multi-purpose projects.

2013 Interagency Pilot Project Completed

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Institute for Water Resources awarded pilot project funding to the Washington Silver Jackets team in July 2013 to advance a new integrated approach to flood risk management and habitat restoration planning in the Puget Sound region of Washington.  Integrating Flood Risk Management and Salmon Habitat Restoration Priorities in the Puget Sound: An Early Opportunities Analysis (Early Opps) expands on work The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), and Washington Department of Ecology (ECY) initiated in 2012 through the Floodplains by Design Program (FbD). Two scoring systems – one for flood risk management and one for salmon habitat restoration – were created and combined to rank Puget Sound floodplain “fragments”. The methodology is not intended to identify “good” or “bad” habitat. Similarly, it also should not be used to classify flood risk alone. Rather, this is a classification exercise developed to target floodplain areas with greatest opportunity for improvement. Fragments that have the greatest potential for both a reduction in flood risk and an improvement to habitat score highly.  In basins where local jurisdictions have to make tough choices of how to best use diminishing floodplain dollars, it is the hope of this study team that the analysis, ranking, and mapping done here can be another tool to support decision makers as they prioritize floodplain improvement demands. Check out the Technical Methodology Report (pdf, 3.65 MB) for more details on the study.