These Daily Briefings on Incidents, Advisories, Watches and Warnings, current weather and Emergency Management tips are published Monday through Friday, as well as during times of increased awareness or actual events.
Due to the warm weather conditions ahead and decreasing fuel moisture levels, the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office will be enacting restrictions on open burning in unincorporated Whatcom County effective July 27, 2020 until further notice. For more information on the countywide burn ban, please refer to this press release.
Effective July 28, 2020, outdoor burning, the use of charcoal briquettes, and prescribed burns are banned on all forest lands within the State of Washington under Department of Natural Resources fire protection through September 30, 2020. This ban applies to all forested parcels being assessed for DNR fire protection, in or out of fire districts. This date may be extended or shortened based upon ongoing fire conditions. For more information on the statewide burn ban, please refer to this commissioner’s order.
The U.S. and Canada have for a third time extended an order closing their shared border to nonessential traffic. The move delays the border’s reopening by another 30 days, until at least August 21, 2020. This includes both vehicular traffic as well as recreational boating between the countries.
The “Proclamation of Emergency” signed by the Whatcom County Executive concerning COVID-19 remains in effect. Information about Whatcom County’s response to COVID-19 is available at the Joint Information Center’s COVID-19 website.
Whatcom County is in Phase 2 of the Washington Safe Start Plan, and does not yet meet eligibility requirements to apply for Phase 3. Simplistically, social distancing, the mask directive and groups of 5 or less are the guidelines of Phase 2. More info about Phase 2 in Whatcom County can be found here, and updates can be found here.
Washington state has implemented a cloth mask mandate requiring the wearing of a mask in public indoors and wherever a social distance of six feet cannot be maintained outdoors. More info can be found here and here.
Advisories, Watches and Warnings:
There is a small craft advisory in effect from now until 1100 this morning.
Whatcom County Weather
Today should be dry with clearing skies and cooler temperatures. Mostly clear skies expected tonight, with some patchy fog possible late night. Tuesday will be clear once any morning fog dissipates. Temperatures will again stay a little cooler on Tuesday. Winds remain generally light.
Coastal Weather for Whatcom County
For the Coastal and Inland waters of Whatcom County, we can expect southerly wind 5 to 15 knots. Wind waves should be 2 feet or less. Tonight, the winds should remain southerly 5 to 15 knots, with wind waves 2 feet or less.
Tides at Cherry Point for the next two days:
|August 17, 2020||0253||7.98|
|August 17, 2020||1044||-1.48|
|August 17, 2020||1837||9.02|
|August 17, 2020||2332||6.49|
|August 18, 2020||0353||8.15|
|August 18, 2020||1126||-1.71|
Here are a few emergency management reminders:
COVID-19: Everyone in Washington State, including Whatcom County, is directed to wear a face covering while at any indoor public space and any outdoor public space where you may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live with you. You can find more info about face coverings and other protective actions here and here.
Backcountry Emergency Management Tips: August and September are perhaps the best two months to hike our mountains and backcountry. There is nothing better than being on a ridge hiking with the sun warming your face. However, it’s also important to remember that in addition to the “normal” first aid emergencies, natural disasters also can have a huge impact on your afternoon or weeklong hiking trip. Earthquakes can cause landslides, rock falls, or severe storms. Wildfires can consume thousands of acres in hours. Flash floods and high rivers can cut bridges and trails. The important thing is not to be afraid, but to be prepared. Here are a few tips for anyone going hiking or into the backcountry:
- Do Your Research - So many backcountry emergencies and rescues could have been avoided had the individuals just been prepared. When you’re going on a day-hike or a backpacking trip, know the weather forecast, as well as expected temperature highs and temperature lows. Know how long the hike is as well as how much time you think it will take to complete the trip. Have a set “turn around” time, meaning that if you aren’t going to reach a certain point by a set time, turn around and head back, so you’ll have sufficient daylight to return safely to camp or the trailhead.
- Know Where You’re Going - Have current maps of the area where you’ll be hiking. Don’t do a hike that is above your ability level. Be aware of side trails that may break off your main trail. Stay on the main trail. The majority of hikers that become lost wind up taking a side trail that branches off the main trail, leading them in the wrong direction. Be familiar where rivers or streams are located, and know what direction they flow. Know the local roads, wildlife, plant life climate, and possible hazards that may be unique to that area. Know how to use and read a compass or GPS.
- Observe - While hiking, pause every couple of minutes and take a look around. Turn around and see what things look like behind you. That way, it should look familiar to you on the way back.
- Share your travel plans - ALWAYS tell two or three responsible adults the specific location where you are going and when you expect to return. Many hikers and backpackers feel that this is unnecessary if they are in a group. It doesn’t matter how large the group is, always tell multiple people. Don’t think that posting your intentions on social media is sufficient.
What if an emergency occurs? – any kind of emergency!
- STOP – At the beginning of a wilderness survival emergency, the most important thing you can do is STOP. First, check on the immediate safety of yourself and anyone else that is with you. Next, relax as best you can. Drink some water. Eat a snack. Survival is 85% mental and only 15% physical. STOP.
- THINK – Assemble the group. Use your brain to figure out what is really going on. Don’t go anywhere yet. There is no rush. STOP and THINK.
- OBSERVE – Assess the immediate situation. What are the weather conditions? Is it going to be dark soon? Where is a good place to take shelter? Inventory everything you have in your pack and pockets, and look around to get a sense of the natural resources nearby. What clothing do you have? How can you improvise with what is available to make it suit your needs? Don’t go anywhere yet. There is no rush. STOP, THINK, and OBSERVE.
- PLAN – When you have figured out what your situation really is, the group can put together a plan for what to do next. Build your plan on what you have observed, what you have in the way of equipment, what you can improvise from native materials, and how you can keep yourself safe. STOP, THINK, OBSERVE, PLAN.
Depending on what has happened, perhaps the most important thing is not to panic but STOP, THINK, OBSERVE, and PLAN. And stay where you are unless it is safe and you know the way out. You might need to spend the night which means you need to build or put up your shelter. You may need to use your first aid kit. You need to build a fire. You need to hydrate, possibly find food, and know how to signal.
There are some great resources out there to get trained on Wilderness Survival, Wilderness First Aid, and preparing for your hike – and remember, you need to be prepared just as much for a two hour hike as you are for a two day hike. Here are three local resources (among many great ones):
"Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters." - Pandora Poikilo
Be Prepared and Stay Safe!
This briefing line is not updated on weekends unless an incident occurs.