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The original item was published from 1/4/2021 9:44:52 AM to 1/4/2021 9:49:59 AM.

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Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: January 4, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Monday, January 1, 2021 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 has been reopened to thru traffic in Custer.  There may still be cleanup activities going on from the train derailment a couple of weeks ago so there could still be some short delays. Watch for flaggers.  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 until 10:00am this morning for the Northern Inland Waters including the San Juan Islands. Look for southeast winds 25-35 knots. Environment Canada also shows a Gale Warning in effect for the “Strait of Georgia-South of Nanaimo.”
A “Coastal Flood Advisory” is in effect from until 11:00am this morning due to possible minor tidal overflow. 
The National Weather Service has issued a special weather statement regarding the increased threat of landslides in western Washington due to the heavy rainfall over the weekend.
And finally, there is a Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow above 3000 feet until midnight tonight.  Another 5-15 inches of snow is possible.  Driving could be difficult.

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

We begin the new year with rain or a chance of rain everyday this week except Thursday when we might see the sun. Temperatures will remain moderate in the mid 40s for the highs and then drop to around 40 for lows.  Higher elevations will be five to 10 degrees colder.  We will continue to see some wind today with gusts near 25 mph or so from a southerly direction.  Winds will decrease and then pick up again for tomorrow and part of tomorrow-night; we will once again see gusts 25-30 mph in places.  It is likely we could see some advisories or watches associated with the weather system tomorrow, so monitor your local weather stations.

Rivers and Streams

While the Nooksack did come up over the weekend, it remained below flood stage.  And, none of the weather systems over the next week appear to have enough moisture to drive the river back up to level over this past weekend.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to check the Whatcom County Public Works “Road Closure” page on the internet for any road problems or closures caused by water or debris that may be lingering from one of our previous storms. 

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County the gale watch comes to a close at 10:00am but winds are forecast to remain from the southwest at 15-25 knots and then out of the west tonight at 15-25 knots until midnight. This usually results in a small craft advisory so watch for that to be issued soon. On Tuesday winds are again forecast to get up to 30-40 knots which are gale force winds. No watch or warning has been issued yet, but once again, these wind velocity ranges usually end up in a gale warning.  Stay tuned to marine weather.






January 04, 2021
January 04, 2021
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January 05, 2021
January 05, 2021
January 05, 2021

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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