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 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 “Small Craft Advisory” is in effect until 12:00 pm noon today for southeast winds from 25-35 knots. Wind waves of 3-5 feet are likely
A “Gale Warning” goes into effect at 12:00pm noon today until tomorrow morning at 4:00am for southeast winds 35-45 knots. Environment Canada also shows a Gale Warning in effect for the “Strait of Georgia-South of Nanaimo.” Wind waves of 5-7 feet should be expected.
A “High Wind Warning” goes into effect at 12:00pm noon today until 10:00pm this evening for Whatcom County. Southeast winds 35-45 mph with gusts to 60mph are expected. Downed trees and power outages are likely and travel could be impacted.
The National Weather Service has issued a special weather statement regarding the increased threat of landslides in western Washington due to heavy rainfall early this week.
And finally, there is a Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow above 3000 feet from noon today until 10:00am tomorrow morning. Accumulations of 15-25 inches of snow along with 45mph wind gusts are possible. Winter driving conditions should be expected making travel difficult and white-outs could from blowing snow.
Whatcom County Inland Weather
The weather warnings (wind and snow) are the weather story for today. High temperatures will be mostly in the mid-40s or even a little warmer with lows tonight near 40. Tomorrow, highs will be about the same as today but lows will drop down to the mid-30s as the clouds begin to thin. Thursday is still forecast to be partly to mostly sunny with highs in the low 40s and lows in the mid 30s. Higher elevations will be 5-10 degrees colder.
The Nooksack River along with small streams will again see a spike of sorts that will begin later today and last into tomorrow. There is no flooding forecast but you can expect to see the river levels rise and if you have any activities planned on or near the river, be cautious of rapidly rising water. Likewise, small streams should not be taken for granted as areas where pooling occurred could suddenly release larger amounts of water catching one off-guard.
For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County wind is the concern today and tonight. Strong southeast winds have led to both a “Small Craft Advisory” “Gale Warning to be issued. Winds will start to die down after midnight but expect another “Small Craft Advisory” to be issued after the Gale Warning expires at 4:00am tomorrow morning. Changes can occur rapidly so monitor marine weather.
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.