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.
The U.S. and Canada have extended an order closing their shared border to nonessential traffic. The move delays the border’s reopening by another 30 days, until at least November 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. Highlights of this phase include: social distancing, wearing a mask, and limiting the size of groups 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:
First, a “Gale Warning” went into effect at 7:00am this morning and will remain in effect until 10:00pm this evening. Winds from the southeast with velocities 25-35 knots. Environment Canada has also issued a “Gale Warning” for the Strait of Georgia, South of Nanaimo.
Second, a “Winter Storm Warning” has been issued for Whatcom County effective from 4:00 pm this afternoon to 10:00am tomorrow morning. Heavy snow above 3000 feet is possible. Total snow accumulations up to 14 inches could occur along with wind gusts to 45 mph.
Third, tomorrow a “Small Craft Advisory” will go into effect from 4:00pm until Saturday November 14th at 7:00am. Winds will be from the west 20-30 knots.
Finally, a “Winter Storm Watch” is in effect beginning at 10:00am tomorrow morning through tomorrow night for heavy snow.
Whatcom County Weather
Up to now we’ve dodged most of the major snow events. This time however, we could see some significant snow accumulations above 3000 feet in Whatcom County. That does not mean areas below 3000 feet should not be on the lookout as lesser amounts can create plenty of headaches and dangerous driving conditions. Llower areas of the county will see rain, but the transition where rain turns to snow and above that is where the dangerous driving conditions begin. For Whatcom County, rain will begin sometime later this morning. Temperatures across the county will be in the mid 40s for highs and then lower 40s for lows; it will be colder in the foothills and upper elevations. Wind will be from the southeast and increase as the day progresses. Look for some gusts between 20-25 mph. More of the same is in store for tomorrow with winds shifting a little more to the north as the day progresses and temperature may be a few degrees warmer; the National Weather Service is predicting more rain and snow for tomorrow. Gusty winds will continue into Saturday with some gusts getting near 30 mph.
Rivers and Streams
The Nooksack River along with small streams will increase in flow and rise with the rain that will fall over the next several days. There should be no flooding, but conditions can change so if your route of travel takes you over or near streams, always be cautious.
Coastal Weather for Whatcom County
For the Strait and Coastal Waters off Whatcom County, strong southeast winds are expected today along with four to six foot wind waves. Winds may ease slightly after midnight before picking up again tomorrow to 15-25 knots from the south. Tomorrow night winds will switch to the northwest and increase once again to near gale force. One other thing to keep in mind is that we are expecting King Tides from November 16th through the 20th. We will see some days during this period with tides above the 10.0’ level.
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.
If you haven't put your Winter Emergency kit in your car, now is the time to do so. Having an extra blanket, flashlight, small shovel, food and water are just a few of the items you should consider placing in your kit. The Washington State Department of Transportation has a list of items that you should consider having in your emergency kit.
Check your windshield wipers now and replace them if they are frayed, leave streaks, or not able to remove water from your windshield. Your safety and the safety of others depends on your ability to clearly see the road and other traffic on the road.
Make sure you turn your lights on during time of reduced visibility; this includes dusk, twilight, fog, and rain. The more you make yourself visible, the less chance of an accident.
Do not attempt to drive through water flowing over the road or even water standing on the road. Flowing water can move vehicles in as little as six inches of water and even SUVs cannot escape the force of flowing water. Likewise, driving through standing water while guessing where the road is could result in veering off the road. By going a different route, you may lose ten or fifteen minutes, but you will arrive safe.
Frost on roads and bridges can occur anytime. Colder temperatures at higher elevations can cause frost or black ice to form on roads and bridges. Wind can create wind chills that drop temperatures below freezing.
Scrape the ice and snow from all the windows on your vehicle. And if you have snow on the hood, remove that to. Snow blowing across a warm windshield will cause condensation and restrict your visibility.
This briefing line is not updated on weekends unless an incident occurs.