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The original item was published from 12/15/2020 8:58:29 AM to 12/21/2020 12:00:03 AM.


Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 15, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Tuesday, December 15, 2020 Emergency Management Daily Briefing for Whatcom County

Several weather systems bringing rain, gusty winds, and mountain snow will pass through the area. Daytime highs in the mid 40s with lows around 40. Expect wintry conditions if traveling above the 2500 foot level; allow extra time to reach destination.

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.

Active Incidents

The U.S. and Canada have extended an order closing their shared border to nonessential traffic until at least December 21, 2020. This includes both vehicular and 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.

Advisories, Watches and Warnings

A “Gale Warning is in effect until 12:00pm today for southeast winds 30-40 knots.
A “Small Craft Advisory” will follow the gale warning beginning at noon and lasting until 4:00pm this afternoon.
Environment Canada also has a Gale Warning in effect at this time for winds 25-35 knots for the Strait of Georgia, south of Nanaimo

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

For Whatcom County weather, rain will continue today as will the wind.  Some gusts could be near 30 mph or a little stronger.  Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 40s with lows tonight dropping down to around 40 degrees or a little warmer.  More of the same tomorrow except the wind will be a little lighter-around 10mph or so.  The next weather system arrives tomorrow night with increasing rain and winds picking up once again with some gusts near 25 mph with the direction variable.  Some places will see northeast wind while others will have a southerly flow.  Temperatures again will be about the same-mid to upper 40s for daytime highs dropping to near 40 at night.  

Rivers and Streams

The picture remains about the same for the Nooksack River and small streams over the next 4-5 days.  With each passing weather system, enough precipitation will fall to cause the river to rise a foot or two and then drop back.  The next weather system of concern would be starting around the 19th.  It appears to have a little more moisture that will raise the level not to flood level, but certainly to a level that is higher than anything over the last three weeks.  More on that tomorrow. 

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County the passing weather systems will drive several small craft advisories over the next several days.  The gale warning goes until noon today followed by the small craft advisory.  Tonight, there is a break with 5-15 knots winds from the south with wind waves of two feet or less, and then it’s right back to southeast winds tomorrow in the 15-25 knot range meaning we’ll probably see another advisory that will last into Thursday.  Wind waves could be as high as 3-5 feet.





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Emergency Management Tips and Reminders


Everyone in Washington State 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.

King Tides

A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is "pulled" back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Moon is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country.

In Whatcom County we pay particular attention to King Tides that occur in the late fall / early winter as many times these coincide with, and can be aggravated by, our wind storms.  This has resulted in significant impacts in our coastal communities, such as occurred in Birch Bay and Blaine in December of 2018 when over 5 million dollars in damage was caused by a King Tide and wind storm.  We define a King Tide as a tide of at least 10.1 at Cherry Point (Whatcom Counties official tide station).  Over the next couple months, we will have King Tides on the following days:

Height of Tide
Time of King Tide 

December 14, 2020

10.1 Feet


December 15, 2020

10.6 Feet


December 16, 2020

10.8 Feet


December 17, 2020

10.7 Feet


December 18, 2020

10.6 Feet


December 19, 2020

10.3 Feet


December 30, 2020

10.1 Feet


December 31, 2020

10.2 Feet


January 01, 2021

10.3 Feet


January 02, 2021

10.3 Feet


January 03, 2021

10.2 Feet


January 04 & 05, 2021

10.1 Feet

0951 / 1021

January 12, 2021

10.4 Feet


January 13 & 14, 2021

10.6 Feet

0645 / 0722

January 15, 2020

10.5 Feet


January 16, 2021

10.2 Feet


January 29-February 01, 2021

10.1 Feet

0706 / 0733 / 0800 / 0827

For those who are tide watchers, these are pretty impressive tides but as happened in the 2018 storm, the tides were pushed nearly two feet higher from the storm pressure (called storm surge) and then the west wind added another 3-4 feet of waves.

This briefing line is not updated on weekends unless an incident occurs.

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