Natural Hazards Mitigation Tools and Education

Natural Hazards

Several natural hazards regularly impact Wasco County due to its geography, climate, and topography. These hazards include flood, wildfire, severe weather, and to a slightly lesser extent, drought. The area's residents are also at varying risks of exposure to landslide/debris flows, earthquakes, and volcanoes.

The mission of the Wasco County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan is to “protect life, property and the environment through coordination and cooperation among public and private partners, which will reduce risk and loss, and enhance the quality of life for the people of Wasco County.” Read or download the full Wasco County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (PDF).


Throughout Wasco County, communities are vulnerable to a variety of severe storm hazards, such as ice and snowstorms, violent windstorms such as tornadoes, and even summer heatwaves. Severe weather seldom causes death and serious property damage, but they can cause major utility and transportation disruptions.

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Drought is a condition of climatic dryness severe enough to reduce soil moisture and water below the minimum necessary for sustaining plant, animal, and human life Systems.

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Any instance of uncontrolled burning within a forested area is wildland fire, whereas uncontrolled burning in grassland, brush, or woodlands is classified as a wildfire.

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The main cause of Northwest floods is the moist air masses that regularly move over the region in the winter. In Wasco County, the weather that produces the most serious flooding events is extensive wet conditions that follow a period of mid and high elevation ice and snowpack development. Riverine and flash floods may both occur in Wasco County. Riverine floods happen when the amount of water flowing through a river channel exceeds that channel's capacity.

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An earthquake is the shaking of the ground caused by an abrupt shift of rock along a fracture in the earth, called a fault.

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A volcano is a vent in the earth’s crust through which molten rock, rock fragments, gases, or ashes are ejected from the earth’s interior. There are a wide variety of hazards related to volcanoes and volcano eruptions. With volcano eruptions, the hazards are distinguished by the different ways in which volcanic materials and other debris flow from the volcano.

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Landslides are the sliding movement of masses of loosened rock and soil down a hillside or slope. The term landslide includes a wide range of ground movements, such as rockfalls, failure of slopes, and shallow debris flows.

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Interactive map:

Explore and learn more about the natural hazards of Wasco County. Curious about what Hazards are in your back yard? Use the interactive map below to get an idea of what you should be prepared for when disaster strikes.
Partner Agencies & Organizations:

  • Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP)
    • Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) have helped communities work together to achieve common goals and deal with often controversial issues. CWPPs have offered many valuable opportunities to communities, allowing them to identify local priorities for community protection and resource management. In addition to enhancing safety and reducing risk to human structures and watersheds, communities with CWPPs are also given priority for USFS and BLM funded hazardous fuels reduction projects as authorized under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 (HFRA). In the end, CWPPs have helped communities better protect themselves for fire risk and better manage their forested landscape.
    • The collaborative efforts of foresters from the federal and state agencies, rural fire departments, private landowners, local government agencies, volunteer organizations, and concerned citizens who live in the wildland urban interface, have resulted in signed CWPPs in every county and many communities across Oregon.