Incident Hotline

Incident Hotline - Thursday, January 17, 2019  

Advisories and Warnings:

A “Wind Advisory” remains in effect from 4:00 pm this afternoon to 4:00 am Friday.  Southerly winds 20-35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph are possible.

A “Winter Weather Advisory” is in effect from 4:00pm this afternoon to 12:00 pm noon Friday above 3500 feet for the Cascades of Whatcom County including the Mount Baker Ski Resort.  Total snow accumulations expected will be somewhere between 6-12 inches; locally heavier amounts could occur.

A “Gale Warning” remains in effect until 4:00am Friday.  Winds are from east to southeast 25-35 knots are imminent or occurring.

  Whatcom County Storm Update (From December 20th Storm):

  1. Birch Bay Drive north of Harborview has a suffered significant damage. Whatcom County Public Works has opened one lane northbound only between Harborview and Shintaffer with a 10 miles per hour speed limit. Southbound traffic from Birch Bay Village and Birch Point must use Shintaffer to Lincoln / Anderson roads for ingress and egress. Persons driving South from Shintaffer to Harborview may be subject to citation and a fine as the southbound lane of Birch Bay Drive is closed. There is no date for repairs to Birch Bay Drive between Harborview and Shintaffer at this time.
  2. Birch Bay Drive south of Harborview - Whatcom County Public Works has opened Birch Bay Drive south of Harborview, both north and south, however the shoulders remain closed due to damage and debris. Pedestrians and bicyclists should use EXTREME caution in this area until cleanup is complete.
  3. The State of Washington Public Assistance Program Initial Damage Assessment is underway to determine the extent of the damages which occurred to public facilities (to include county, cities, special purpose districts, private non-profits, federally recognized tribal governments)  throughout the state. The Tentative Incident Period is December 10-25, 2018 -- Severe Winter Storm, High Winds, Flooding, Landslides, Mudslides, and a Tornado. 

  4. Completed Preliminary Damage Assessment forms are due back into the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management via email (wcsodem@co.whatcom.wa.us) by close of business January 9th, so that we can tabulate all damages Whatcom County wide and submit a consolidated report to the State by January 11th.

  5. Individuals and businesses should report damage to the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center Damage Assessment line (360) 788-5311. When residents and businesses call, they will be routed to voice mail, where they are being asked to please leave a message with their name, phone number, address, and the best time to return a call. Calls will be returned starting January 2, 2019 in order to complete the assessment. This Assessment is not a guarantee of financial assistance for losses.

  6. Whatcom County Planning and Community Development has established a Storm Damage Repair Permitting Process for those who have experienced damage to their home or business. If residents and businesses have sustained damage from the storm, they are asked to take photos to document the damage and verify that repairs are necessary. Then they should bring their photos into the Permit Center. Permit Center staff will use our Building Services Emergency Repair Permit policy to assess your situation and determine if you will be eligible to use this expedited process. More information can be found at http://whatcomcounty.us/358/Planning-Development-Services.

  7. Whatcom County Public Works continues clean-up and response County wide.

  8. The Whatcom County Proclamation of Emergency remains in effect.

Whatcom County Weather

What should you expect for the weather today?  Wet and windy with a wind advisory that will go into effect this afternoon and remain in effect until 4:00 an on Friday.  That’s for the lower elevations of Whatcom County.  If you’re headed into the mountains, you can expect a wintry mix in the foothills changing over to all snow with a snow advisory above 3500 feet; sometimes the snow will be heavy.  The winds will be gusty in the mountains as well so that can make traveling difficult.  Temperatures for the lower parts of the county will climb into the mid to upper 40s with lows tonight remaining in the low 40s.  Higher elevations will  be colder and the ski area will be around the freezing level tonight.  The weather for tomorrow will be just about the same as today with the temperatures being just a little warmer.  There could be a rain/snow mixture at the ski area tomorrow and tomorrow night.  Looking  forward to the weekend, the forecast looks about the same, wet in the low areas of the county, snow in the upper areas and temperatures that reach the mid to upper 40s for highs and mid to upper 30s for lows.  Expect temperatures to be a little cooler in the higher elevations.

The weather system we’ll be dealing with for the next couple of days will drop enough moisture to cause the Nooksack River to rise a little bit, but still remain well below flood stage, so there are no flood concerns.  However, always be prepared for locally heavy rain to cause small streams to rise rapidly; sometime they can flood over the road which can catch you off guard.  If you see water flowing across the road, do not go through it; turn around and find a different route.  Remember, it only takes six inches of flowing water to know a person off their feet and 12-18 inches of water can move large  vehicles like SUVs.

Coastal Weather for Lummi Nation, Birch Bay, Lummi Island, Strait of Georgia, Pt. Roberts, Bellingham, and Blaine

For Coastal Whatcom County today, the “Gale Warning” remains in effect.  East winds of 20-30 knots will increase to 25-35 knots causing wind waves of 4-6 feet.  This will continue into this evening although the winds will shift a little more to the southeast.  On Friday, conditions will remain about the same but on Saturday the winds should scale back a little to 15-25 knots causing 2-4 foot waves.

 Emergency Preparedness

Don’t assume weather is the same across the county.  Lower elevations near the coast can see rain, while in the foothills, you can run into a rain/snow mixture, and the higher elevations can be all snow.  These changes can occur within short distances or small changes in elevation. Even if the skies are clear, temperatures rise and fall through the freezing level regularly which means frost can form along the sides of the roads, bridges and overpasses. And, water pooling on the roads can turn into ice making driving hazardous.  Buildings, mountains, and trees can block the sun from hitting the roads which can allow frost to form.  Be vigilant for all of these conditions when driving.

Make sure your winter survival kit is in your car.  Some items include extra blanket, flashlight, extra batteries, food, and water among others.  The Washington State Department of Transportation website has an example – see “Winter Driving-Emergency Car Kit” on their website.

Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half-full during winter months.  And should you find yourself stranded and running your car to keep warm, always make sure the exhaust is clear of obstacles and open your window to keep carbon monoxide from building up inside your vehicle.

Wind and low temperatures spell wind chill which can be especially dangerous.  Always dress appropriately and have some dry clothes in your vehicle if you get wet.

 If you’re headed to the ski area or backcountry make sure you’re aware of tree well and deep snow dangers along with the current avalanche conditions.  They can change rapidly.

 Remember, think safety and be prepared! 

Contact: Wallace Kost, 360.788.5305, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Managemen