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The original item was published from 12/30/2020 9:34:23 AM to 1/8/2021 12:00:02 AM.

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Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 30, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Wednesday, December 30, 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.  Portal Way remains closed in Custer, WA due to heavy equipment and cleanup.  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.

Advisories, Watches and Warnings

A “Gale warning” is in effect for the Northern Inland Waters including the San Juan Islands 6:00pm this evening.  Southeast winds 30-40 knots are expected. Environment Canada has issued a “Gale Warning” for the Strait of Georgia-South of Tsawwassen.
The National Weather Service has issued a “Wind Advisory” until 7:00pm tonight for southeast winds 25-35 mph with possible gusts to 50 mph.
A “Winter Weather Advisory” remains in effect until 4:00 am Thursday morning for the Cascades; passes could see 10-18 inches of snow and elevations above 4500 feet- two feet of snow.

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

We are going to be wet through the weekend as more weather systems pass through our area.  There will be wind today and again on New Year’s Day with gusts that could approach 30 mph or more. For most or us the wind will be from the south/southeast, but towards Sumas there could be some northeast wind as well. Temperature highs range from the upper 30s in Newhalem, to mid-40s or a little warmer here in Bellingham.  Lows drop down to around 38-40 with the exception of Newhalem where it will be in the low to mid-30s. Expect the higher elevations-around 2500 feet and above to continue to see snowfall.

Rivers and Streams

The Nooksack River level and its forks are beginning to rise but will stay well below flood stage.  The next storm front will cause the river to rise beginning Saturday and last through the weekend.  Flooding is not predicted at this time; however, river channels will be quite full; actual rainfall will affect the level so stay tuned to local weather stations for updates.
And small streams will likely have fast moving water in them as well. Be careful. 

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County southeast winds 25-35 knots will cause 4-6 foot wind waves. Tonight, winds will continue from a southerly direction dropping to 20-30 knots and then 15-25 knots.  Look for a “Small Craft Advisory” for that period.  Tomorrow southeast winds will be less than 20 knots. As the next weather system arrives winds will again pick up and “Small Craft Advisories” and Gale Watches and Warnings should be expected.






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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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