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The original item was published from 12/22/2020 1:13:00 PM to 12/29/2020 12:00:05 AM.


Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 22, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Tuesday, December 22, 2020 Emergency Management Daily Briefing for Whatcom County

A train derailment has occurred in the Custer area. I-5 is closed in both directions as has Portal Way plus additional arterial roads. Traffic is being rerouted and evacuations are underway.

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

A train has derailed in the Custer, WA area.  Interstate 5 has been closed in both directions as has been numerous other roads in the area.  Fire and law enforcement are on site and are redirecting traffic to other routes.  Please remain away from the area so first responders can attend to the situation without delay.

The U.S. and Canada have extended an order closing their shared border to nonessential traffic until at least January 21, 2021. 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.

First of all, there are a number of power outages around the county with the greatest number of people affected in the Sudden Valley area.  The cause is under investigation and there is no restoration time posted at this time.

Advisories, Watches and Warnings

The National Weather Service has issued a “Special Weather Statement” that periods of moderate to heavy rainfall through Monday will lead to an increased threat of landslides in western Washington. Even though the rain has moved out of the area, the statement remains in effect as of this posting.

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

Weather for the next couple of days will be partly to mostly sunny with some cooler temperatures.  We’ll top out around 40 degrees or so which will help to melt off some of the frozen slush and ice resulting from the snow yesterday. Evening temperatures will drop below freezing so expect frost on bridges and overpasses and any standing water is likely to freeze. Temperatures will be about ten degrees in the Newhalem area.  We’ll also see a breeze from the east or northeast today around 10 mph or less.  Expect tomorrow to be much like today-sunny and 40 degrees for the high (30 degrees or colder for the low)  with lighter winds.  The next chance for precipitation will begin on Thursday evening.

Rivers and Streams

 The Nooksack River level is dropping at all reporting locations except Ferndale where it is peaking right at this time and there are no strong storms predicted in the next week which would cause any flood concerns at this time.  If you plan on being on or near the river, always keep safety in mind.  Just because the river isn’t near flood stage doesn’t make it any less dangerous.  

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County northwest winds are going to ease to 10-20 knots this afternoon and then switch to the east tonight at 5-15 knots.  Tomorrow winds will switch to the northeast and drop to 10 knots in the afternoon.  Wind waves will drop from 2-4 feet this afternoon to two feet or less with the lighter wind.





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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 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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