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The original item was published from 12/16/2020 10:10:47 AM to 12/16/2020 12:15:23 PM.


Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 16, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Wednesday, December 16, 2020 Emergency Management Daily Briefing for Whatcom County

Rain with some wind continue today. Highs in the mid to upper 40s. Lows tonight around 40 with rain and wind continuing. Winds drop off tomorrow but rain continues. Temperatures are a repeat of today. Look for more rain and wind on Friday.

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 “Small Craft Advisory is in effect beginning at 4:00am this morning and lasting until 10:00am this morning.  Expect southeast winds 15-25 knots. 
A “Gale Warning will go into effect at the expiration of the “Small Craft Advisory” and will last form 10:00am to 10:00 pm this evening; southeast winds 25-35 knots are expected.
Environment Canada is predicting southeast winds 20-30 knots early this afternoon for the Strait of Georgia, south of Nanaimo.

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

For Whatcom County weather, rain and breezy conditions will continue today.  While not everyone will see winds gusting to 25 mph or so, for those who are, you expect the wind to occur today and tonight.  Temperatures will range between 45 and 50 degrees for the high today with lows tonight around 40 degrees.  More rain is on tap for tomorrow and winds will subside some but are expected to pick up again for Friday.  At the moment, temperatures appear they will remain warm enough that snow will be limited to higher elevations over 3000 feet.  Right now for example, it’s raining in Maple Falls while the temperature at the ski resort is 30 degrees and it is snowing. 

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.   At the moment, there are three systems that will transit the area, one today, one on Friday and then another on Saturday. So, by the time we get to the third system, the river will be running quite full, but not flooding.  Take that into account if you have any plans on or near the river.  And, a statement that’s always worth repeating, do not try to crossing roads with water over them, the road may or may not be stable and flowing water can move vehicles as large as SUVs 

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County southeast winds of 15-25 nots will increase to 25-35 knots after 10:00am. Wind waves will increase from two to four feet to four to six feet.  Southwest winds 15-25 knots are expected tomorrow so another Small Craft Advisory is likely to be issued later today for that period of time.  Looking at the tides below you can see we are crossing the 10.00' threshold which is indicative of "King Tides."  They will last for a few more days.  





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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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