Good morning. You have reached the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management Daily Briefing; today is Saturday, February 1st and this is a special Saturday briefing due to the flooding occurring in Whatcom County at this time.
First of all, numerous road closures across Whatcom County have already occurred. Check the Whatcom County Public Works website for a list of closures currently identified. Expect the list to change throughout the day as the river and stream levels rise and fall. Refer to the Whatcom County Public Works website and the “Road Closures and Restrictions” page for a current list of road closures at http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/952/Road-Closures-Restrictions.
All northbound lanes on Interstate 5 at milepost 244 have been closed to a landslide (notified at 8:45 am).
With regards to the coronavirus, please see the Whatcom County Health Department website for current information.
Advisories, Watches and Warnings:
A ’Flood Warning’ is in effect for Whatcom County until 8:39 am Monday, February 3rd. The Nooksack River level continues to rise at all reporting locations at this time. Current information shows it should crest at the Saxon Bridge later today but will continue to rise at Cedarville and Ferndale gauges peaking in the Ferndale area late tomorrow morning. In addition, numerous streams are flooding and water is pooling in lower areas covering roads and bridges.
A “Gale Warning” is in effect until 10:00am this morning for southwest winds 25-35 knots.
A “Wind Advisory” is in effect until 10:00am this morning for winds 25-35 mph with gusts to 50 mph.
A Special Weather Statement has been issued by the National Weather Service for an increased risk of landslides through 10:00pm this evening.
These advisories, watches, and warnings will be updated as conditions warrant.
Whatcom County Weather.
Temperatures will reach a high near 50s degrees and then rapidly begin to fall. Lows tonight will be around 30 degrees so a risk of icy roads will develop. Moisture will change from all rain to a rain/snow mixture though no accumulations are expected in the lower areas though it will be spotty. A chance for rain/snow showers will continue into tomorrow with high temperatures ten degrees cooler than today. Snow levels will also drop from 4500 feet to 1500 feet so if you are traveling to the ski area expect to see anywhere from three to seven inches of snow which could also impact driving conditions. Winds will be gusting into the mid 30 mph range or a little higher from the northwest in Blaine and out of the west/southwest in Bellingham. Winds are blowing from the west at 25-35 knots in the Strait, and with the high tide of 8.83 feet occurring in the next hour or so, there could be some spray that blows onto the roads in the Birch Bay and Sandy Point areas.
This briefing line will be updated as conditions warrant. Before doing any traveling today, check to see if your travel route has been affected by floodwaters. And remember, driving into water flowing over the road is extremely dangerous and even standing water could lead to your vehicle stalling leaving you stranded.
Coastal Weather for Whatcom County
Here are a few emergency management reminders:
First, put your Winter Safety Kit in your vehicle if you haven’t done so already. Check the Washington State Department of Transportation website for a list of items to have in your kit.
Second, watch for ice and slush on the roadways especially where the temperature drops below the freezing level. And don’t forget, shaded caused by overhanging trees, mountains, or even buildings can shield the sun from thawing the frost and you could go from a dry area to patches of frost which could cause a loss of traction or vehicle control. Elevation will also make a difference as to where the freezing level is so keep alert.
Third, watch for packed snow or patches of packed snow if you are headed to the ski area or crossing the Cascades over the next couple of days. Slush or snow building up under your vehicle tires can cause your vehicle to ride on top of an unstable surface and can lead to loss of traction and vehicle control.
Fourth, keep an eye on the avalanche notifications and tree well warning. You can find information about both on the Mount Baker Ski Area Website Home Page.
Fifth, don’t drive through water flowing over roads. It only take three to six inches of fast moving water to knock you off your feet and another few inches to move vehicles as large as SUVs.
This briefing line is not updated on weekends unless an incident occurs.