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The original item was published from 12/28/2020 10:14:25 AM to 1/6/2021 12:00:04 AM.

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Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 28, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Monday, December 28, 2020 Emergency Management Daily Briefing for Whatcom County

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

Train Derailment Update.  the intersection at Portal Way and Main St. in Custer, WA remains closed at this time.  It is unknown when the roads will be reopened; please use alternate routes. Updates to this information will be made known as they are made available.  Incident Number 20-4465 has been assigned to this event.

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

A “Gale Watch” is in effect from 6:00 pm Tuesday December 29th until Wednesday at 6:00pm.  Southeast winds 30-40 knots are possible during this period.
A “Winter Storm Watch” is in effect from 12:00 am December 30th until 4:00am December 31st. Heavy snow is possible above 2500 feet.  Accumulations of 15-24 inches are possible.

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

The fog we have been blanketed with this morning will gradually burn off throughout the morning and we will have partly to mostly sunny skies around the area.  Winds will be light and variable with temperatures in the low 40s for most areas.  Lows tonight will drop down to around the freezing mark or lower, especially in the higher elevations like Maple Falls and NewHalem. Fog will redevelop as temperatures drop.  Tomorrow will be foggy initially with more clouds rolling in as the next weather system approaches.  Look for highs tomorrow to be about five degrees colder than today. Once the rain begins, it will be with us through the weekend. Keep in mind, heavy snow above 2500 feet does not mean it can’t snow below that elevation.  At this time of year, a degree or two of temperature change is all it takes to have rain or snow or both falling at the same time.

Rivers and Streams

The two weather systems that will impact our area will drop enough rain that the Nooksack River will see a couple of spikes in the river level over the next week.  Of the two, the first will occur around Thursday with the second one around January 3rd. The second one will impact the Nooksack the most but not to the extent of any flooding at this point. Nevertheless, if you plan on being on or near the river, remain vigilant in monitoring the river level and extremely careful in your activities. 

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County winds today will be from the northwest 5-15 knots and then switch to the northeast tonight. On Tuesday, the winds will switch to the southeast and increase first 20-30 knots and then 30-40 knots after midnight.  Five to seven foot wind waves are likely during the peak winds. 






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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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