close menu
This website uses cookies to store your accessibility preferences. No personal / identifying information is stored. More info.

FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions

1GEMLOGOStacked - Copy
(we will add more as the questions arise)
What kinds of hazards do we face in Gem County?
We are at risk from weather events such as thunderstorms, floods and flash floods, and extreme heat; structural fires; hazardous materials incidents; wildfires; and earthquakes. To see a more complete list of our hazards visit our Local Hazards Page.

How will the public be warned of emergencies?

The public will be warned primarily through the local media. In some instances the Emergency Alert System (formerly called the Emergency Broadcast System) will be used to inform the public and issue instructions. EAS radio stations include:

  • KBSU (FM) 90.3
  • KBSM (FM) 91.7
  • KBSX (FM) 91.5
  • KBOI (AM) 670

In addition, the public may sign up to be notified by cell phone of certain emergency situations by signing up for the Emergency Notification System or Check out our Gem County EOC Dashboard

How can I prepare my family for emergencies and disasters? 
Visit our Training and Resources Page
How can I find out about floodplain maps or if I'm in the floodplain?
You can check with the jurisdiction that you live in,or call the state floodplain coordinator.
Idaho Floodplain Coordinator: (208) 287-4800
Emmett Floodplain Coordinator: (208) 365-9569 EXT 6
Gem County Floodplain Coordinator (208) 365-5144
Visit the Gem County Floodplain Page for more information

What is the 100-year flood?
The term “100-year flood” is misleading. It is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. A 100-year flood is a flood that has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Thus, the 100-year flood could occur more than once in a relatively short period of time. The 100-year flood on the Boise River is defined as a flow of 16,600 cfs.

Where can I get sand and sandbags?
Sand and sandbags may be obtained by checking your local Yellow pages. For sand look under Sand & Gravel; for sandbags look under Bags. In some circumstances of severe flooding sand and sandbags may be provided through Gem County Disaster Services in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers. In those instances, the public will be advised where such materials will be available. For more information contact the office of the Emergency Manager at or call 208-365-4398.  In those instances, the public will be advised where such materials will be available.

How are snowflakes formed? 
A snowflake begins to form when an extremely cold water droplet freezes onto a pollen or dust particle in the sky. This creates an ice crystal. As the ice crystal falls to the ground, water vapor freezes onto the primary crystal, building new crystals – the six arms of the snowflake.

That’s the short answer, the more detailed explanation is this: 

The ice crystals that make up snowflakes are symmetrical (or patterned) because they reflect the internal order of the crystal’s water molecules as they arrange themselves in predetermined spaces (known as “crystallization”) to form a six-sided snowflake. 

Ultimately, it is the temperature at which a crystal forms — and to a lesser extent the humidity of the air — that determines the basic shape of the ice crystal. Thus, we see long needle-like crystals at 23 degrees F and very flat plate-like crystals at 5 degrees F.  

The intricate shape of a single arm of the snowflake is determined by the atmospheric conditions experienced by entire ice crystal as it falls. A crystal might begin to grow arms in one manner, and then minutes or even seconds later, slight changes in the surrounding temperature or humidity causes the crystal to grow in another way. Although the six-sided shape is always maintained, the ice crystal (and its six arms) may branch off in new directions. Because each arm experiences the same atmospheric conditions, the arms look identical. 

So, why are no two snowflakes exactly alike? 
Well, that’s because individual snowflakes all follow slightly different paths from the sky to the ground —and thus encounter slightly different atmospheric conditions along the way. Therefore, they all tend to look unique, resembling everything from prisms and needles to the familiar lacy pattern.  

Be snowstorm-ready: Visit and type in your zip code or your city and state to get your local winter forecast. You should also check out our story, Get your snowstorm smarts on: 9 forecast tools to use this winter.