COVID-19 - The “Proclamation of Emergency” signed by the Whatcom County Executive concerning COVID-19 remains in effect. The U.S. and Canada have extended an order closing their shared border to nonessential traffic until at least June 21, 2021
A "Small Craft Advisory" is in effect from 6:00pm this evening until 6:00 am tomorrow morning for southwest winds 15-25 knots.
We'll begin the day with some clouds in the area but they will clear out as the day progresses. There doesn't appear to be a lot of moisture associated with this weak front so things should remain dry. However, it will allow temperatures to drop as the flow turns onshore, ushering in air originating over the cooler waters of the Pacific to the area. Going overnight Thursday and into Friday, clouds look to increase again but more dry weather is likely. Daytime highs will steadily decrease over the next several days. The highs today will reach the 70 degree mark plus or minus a few degrees depending on where you live in the county. Lows tonight will drop into the low 50s. There will be some southwest wind with use in the 5-15 mph range with gusts to 20 mph. Expect Friday to be cooler; the highs will be in the low to mid 60s and showers are likely to develop on Friday evening and last through the weekend. It won't be a steady rain but passing showers could interrupt your outdoor activities for a while.
Flows within the rivers and streams of Whatcom County are normal with no likelihood of flooding. The flow is a little higher this week due to snow melting in the Cascades. Except for the colder water which itself can pose a hazard if your plans include being in the water, there will be no other issues.
Strong onshore flow today into tonight easing Friday morning. A weak frontal system will reach the area Saturday with a stronger system Sunday. Onshore flow will increase again Monday. Winds: Today: S wind 10-20 knots. Wind waves 2-4'. Tonight: SW wind 15-25 knots. Wind waves 2-4'. Tomorrow: S wind 10-20 knots becoming 5-15 knots in the afternoon. Wind waves 1-3'. A slight chance of rain in the afternoon.
Emergency Management Tips and Reminders
Emergency Management In The Backcountry
There is nothing better than being on a ridge hiking with the sun warming your face. However, it’s also important to remember that in addition to the “normal” first aid emergencies, natural disasters also can have a huge impact on your afternoon or weeklong hiking trip. Earthquakes can cause landslides, rock falls or severe storms. Wildfires can consume thousands of acres in hours. Flash floods and high rivers can cut bridges and trails. The important thing is not to be afraid, but to be prepared. Here are a few tips for anyone going hiking or into the backcountry:
Do Your Research - So many backcountry emergencies and rescues could have been avoided had the individuals just been prepared. When you’re going on a day-hike or a backpacking trip, know the weather forecast, as well as expected temperature highs and temperature lows. Know how long the hike is as well as how much time you think it will take to complete the trip. Have a set “turn around” time, meaning that if you aren’t going to reach a certain point by a set time, turn around and head back, so you’ll have sufficient daylight return safely to camp or the trailhead.
Know where you are going - Have current maps of the area where you’ll be hiking. Don’t do a hike that is above your ability level. Be aware of side trails that may break off your main trail. Stay on the main trail. The majority of hikers that become lost, wind up taking a side trail that branches off the main trail, leading them in the wrong direction. Be familiar where rivers or streams are located, and know what direction they flow. Know the local roads, wildlife, plant life climate, and possible hazards that may be unique to that area. Know how to use and read a compass or GPS.
Observe - While hiking, pause every couple of minutes and take a look around. Turn around and see what thing look like behind you. That way, it should look familiar to you on the way back.
Share your travel plans - ALWAYS tell two or three responsible adults the specific location where you are going, and when you expect to return. Many hikers and backpackers feel that this is unnecessary if they are in a group. It doesn’t matter how large the group is, always tell multiple people. Don’t think that posting your intentions on social media is sufficient.
What if an emergency occurs? – any kind of emergency!
STOP – At the beginning of a wilderness survival emergency, the most important thing you can do is STOP. First, check on the immediate safety of yourself and anyone else that is with you. Next, relax as best you can. Drink some water. Eat a snack. Survival is 85% mental and only 15% physical. STOP.
THINK – Assemble the group. Use your brain to figure out what is really going on. Don’t go anywhere yet. There is no rush. STOP and THINK.
OBSERVE – Assess the immediate situation. What are the weather conditions? Is it going to be dark soon? Where is a good place to take shelter? Inventory everything you have in your pack and pockets, and look around to get a sense of the natural resources nearby. What clothing do you have? How can you improvise with what is available to make it suit your needs? Don’t go anywhere yet. There is no rush. STOP, THINK, and OBSERVE.
PLAN – When you have figured out what your situation really is, the group can put together a plan for what to do next. Build your plan on what you have observed, what you have in the way of equipment, what you can improvise from native materials, and how you can keep yourself safe. STOP, THINK, OBSERVE, PLAN.
Depending on what has happened, perhaps the most important thing is not to panic but STOP, THINK, OBSERVE, and PLAN. And stay where you are unless it is safe and you know the way out. You might need to spend the night which means you need to build or put up your shelter. You may need to use your first aid kit. You need to build a fire. You need to hydrate, possibly find food, and know how to signal.
There are some great resources out there to get trained on Wilderness Survival, Wilderness First Aid, and preparing for your hike – and remember, you need to be prepared just as much for a two hour hike as you are for a two day hike. Here are three local resources (among many great ones):
American Alpine Institute http://www.alpineinstitute.com/catalog/backpacking-and-wilderness-skills/
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) https://www.nols.edu/en/coursefinder/locations/nols-pacific-northwest/
Alderleaf Wilderness College https://www.wildernesscollege.com/
Washington State residents are 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 on the Whatcom County Health Department Website.
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.