Incident Hotline

Incident Hotline Friday, December 14th, 2018. 

Active Alerts and Incidents

There are several weather statements today from the National Weather Service.

  1. A high wind warning is in effect from 1:00-7:00pm today.  This includes the Ferndale, Bellingham, and Sandy Point areas.
  2. A gale warning is in effect through this evening.

Whatcom County Weather

The weather issue of the day will be the winds which should be increasing as we progress through the morning and then from 1:00-7:00 pm we will be under the high wind warning. The strongest winds are anticipated around 2:00pm and should last for 2-3 hours before lessening. There will be some spotty showers or rain with this as well. Farther inland, winds will not be as strong. During the wind warning winds will be from the south at 30-40 mph with gusts of 50 to 60 mph. Several effects could occur from this. Tree limbs or power lines could be knocked down or power outages could occur. Also, high profile or large vehicles could be buffeted by the wind causing vehicle control issues. Slowing down can alleviate much of this problem. Temperatures will feel rather warm reaching into the low 50s today and then dropping back into the upper 30s and low 40s for tonight. Upper elevations such as Mount Baker Ski area temperatures will be in the 30s for highs and 20s for lows. That gets us to Sunday when the next storm arrive which will be more of a rain and snow event. Beginning Saturday night expect rain in the lower areas, a rain/snow mixture at the ski area and all snow at elevation above the ski area. Maple Falls could see heavy rain Sunday night and NewHalem can be added to that on Monday night into Tuesday. Temperatures though for the entire county continue to remain in the upper 40s for highs and upper 30s or low 40s for lows.

There could be some impact to the Nooksack River levels as we work our way through next week's storm systems.  At this time, being aware rivers and streams may be affected and watching for updates is the point to be made. Wednesday through Friday appears to be the timeframe to watch.

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For Coastal Whatcom County, a gale warning remains in effect through this evening. Today SE winds today 25-35 knots increasing to 30-40 knots. Wind waves 4-6 become 5-7 feet.  Winds remain from the south tonight in the 30-40 knot range before lessening to 15-25 knots after midnight.  Winds will remain in the 15-25 knot range through Sunday only shifting direction for the southeast to the east on Sunday.  Wind waves will be 2-4 feet in height.  Sunday night winds will shift back to the southeast 15-20 knots and wind waves will ease to 1-3 feet.  At this time Monday looks like 5-15 knot winds with less than 2 foot waves.

A Gale Warning means winds of 34 to 47 knots are imminent or occurring. Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires experience and properly equipped vessels. It is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience seek safe harbor prior to the onset of gale conditions.

Emergency Preparedness

- Plan on winter driving conditions in the foothills and higher. A winter storm warning means travel will be very hazardous or impossible.

- The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center has also issues a couple of Avalanche Danger ratings: For backcountry, the rating is 5 extreme: Avoid all Avalanche Terrain and also a 4 High: Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.

- Rockslide or mudslides are always possible with all the rain we’ve been having; the ground is saturated.

- There is a “Deep Snow and Tree Well Advisory” at the ski area.  If you’re not familiar with tree wells and their associated danger,  numerous “YouTube” videos are available to show what can happen.

- If you’re going into the mountains, let someone know where you’re going and always use the buddy system. Also, if you change your plans, let someone know what your altered plans are.

- Make sure your winter kit is in your car and keep your gas tank at least half-full.

- Be aware of wind chill and dress appropriately.

- Crosswinds can catch you off guard when you move from sheltered to open areas and impact driving. Add snow or ice on the road and an extremely dangerous situation exists. The only way to address this is by slowing down or waiting for conditions to improve before traveling.

 Stay in front of the weather by listening to the forecast for anything that may cause problems while you’re traveling. Check the Washington State Department of Transportation website for information about mountain passes if you’re traveling over them. One mountain pass may have snow and require chains, while the other may not be affected at all.

Be extremely cautious during this period of unsettled weather.

This hotline will not be updated until Monday unless and incident occurs before then.

Remember, think safety and be prepared!

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