Newsflash Home
The original item was published from 12/17/2020 9:39:41 AM to 12/21/2020 12:00:04 AM.


Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 17, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Thursday, December 17, 2020 Emergency Management Daily Briefing for Whatcom County

More rain in the valley today with snow in the higher elevations. Winds will be picking up tonight and tomorrow with gusts near 40 mph. Weather pattern bringing more rain Saturday which could lead the Nooksack River to exceed its banks.

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.

**KING TIDE UPDATE:  The combination of the southwesterly/westerly winds generating 2-5 foot waves in Birch Bay and Sandy Point on top of the morning high tide which, with the storm surge, is now expected to be 11.3’ may cause some coastal flooding and residents should exercise caution along coastal roads December 17 from 0700-0900.**

Advisories, Watches and Warnings

A “Coastal Flood Advisory” is in effect until 10:00 am this morning due to astronomical tide, low pressure and south and west winds.  Minor coastal flooding is possible.

A “Small Craft Advisory is in effect until 10:00pm this evening for West winds 15-25 knots.

A “Winter Weather Advisory” is in effect until noon this morning for an additional 3-5 inches of snow above 3500 feet which would be on top of the 7-13 inches that have already fallen.
Environment Canada has issued a "Gale Warning for Strait of Georgia, south of Nanaimo.

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

The weather systems that will be impacting Whatcom County over the next few days are turning out to be a little stronger than originally anticipated.  The result is that more rain will be falling and we will experience some windy conditions, especially Friday and Friday night.  Temperatures over the next few days will reach the mid to upper 40s.  Lows will drop to the low 40s.  Wind will be from the south, southeast and switch to the northeast with wind gusts to around 40s mph, especially in the northern part of the county.  

Rivers and Streams

An important update for the Nooksack River and small streams is that there is now a steady stream of moisture lining up in the Pacific Ocean that will pass through the area raising the chances the South Fork and main channel of the Nooksack could see some flooding.  Actual rainfall will determine how much flooding there could be, but indications are there could be some moderate flooding. A good course of action would be to review what you would do if flooding were to take place.  Monitor weather stations for additional information.  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 northwest winds today in the 15-25 knot ranges will switch to west winds tonight and drop off to 10-20 knots after midnight.  Tomorrow southeast winds will increase from 20-30 knots to 30-40 knots.  Expect “Small Craft Advisories” and “Gale Warnings” to be issued for these conditions. Looking at the tide levels 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.  





December 17, 2020
December 17, 2020
December 18, 2020
December 18, 2020090810.63
December 18, 2020
December 18, 202018157.38
December 19, 2020

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.

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing