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.
Train Derailment Update. Portal Way has now been reopened to thru traffic but heavy equipment and personnel continue to work at the Custer site. Expect flaggers to stop traffic intermittently to enable trucks and personnel to enter/exit site as necessary. 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 “Small Craft Advisory” has been issued by the NWS beginning at 10:00pm this evening until tomorrow morning at 10:00am for southeast winds 15-25 knots.
A “Gale Watch” is in effect at 10:00am January 1stfor the Northern Inland Waters including the San Juan Islands through Friday evening. Southeast winds 25-35 knots are expected.
A “Winter Weather Advisory” continues in effect until 10:00 am this morning above 2500 feet.
Whatcom County Inland Weather
It’s a safe bet that we will see rain with wind over the next four days. Fortunately, temperatures will be warm enough that the moisture in the lowlands will fall as rain; however, there could be some pretty hefty amounts of snow for the higher elevations-the ski area had almost two feet of snow from this past storm system. Highs will be in the mid-40s for the most part with lows dropping to near 40. Newhalem will be 5-8 degrees colder. Part of the story will be the wind which will start to pickup tonight and be with us through Saturday. There are no advisories as of now but some gusts could get near 30 mph or stronger. And, since there is a gale watch with winds up to 35 knots or 40mph those open water winds could push into our coastal lowlands.
The Northwest River Forecast Center continues to monitor possible impacts to the Nooksack River level as we head into the next several storm systems. At the present time this first storm system for tomorrow will not cause any flooding; the second storm over the weekend does not appear to cause any flooding; however, if it dropped more rain than expected, there could be a road closure here and there. So, without sounding any alarms at this time, monitor local weather and news stations for updates and check the Whatcom County Public Works “Road Closure” page on the internet for any road problems or closures caused by water or debris.
For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County the best thing you can do is to continuously listen to marine weather as winds are forecast to push through Small Craft Advisory into Gale force winds and back down several times over the next four days. Directionally, the winds will be from the south or southeast.
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.
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:
December 30, 2020
December 31, 2020
January 01, 2021
January 02, 2021
January 03, 2021
January 04 & 05, 2021
0951 / 1021
January 12, 2021
January 13 & 14, 2021
0645 / 0722
January 15, 2020
January 16, 2021
January 29-February 01, 2021
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.