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 July 21, 2021.
The National Weather Service has issued "Excessive Heat Warning" remains in effect until 11:00pm Tuesday evening. It was previously set to expire this evening. Dangerously hot conditions today with temperatures lingering in the upper 90s on Tuesday with potentially dangerously hot heat index values up to 111.
A Stage 1 Burn Ban is in effect in unincorporated Whatcom County. For more information, see the following site for more information about this announcement: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/381/Fire-Marshal
A "Red Flag Warning" is in effect from 11:00am this morning to 8:00pm this evening for hot, dry and unstable conditions for fire weather zones 656 and 657 which includes the west slopes of the Cascades. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either imminent or occurring now.
A "Small Craft Advisory" in in effect from 8:00pm this evening until 8:00am Tuesday morning.
Conditions across the county today remain hot with temperatures likely to exceed 100 degrees in most locations. When humidity is included, the value will be another three to five degrees higher. The wind will be light. Even Point Roberts is likely to hit at least 90 degrees today. Sumas will be around 112 degrees. Tonight' lows will be around 70 degrees. Tomorrow will begins a trend towards warm but cooler temperatures. We'll still be in the upper 80s and mid 90s tomorrow but the low will drop into the 60s and by Wednesday Sumas will see mid-80s and Bellingham will be around 80 degrees.
**As we enter these warm to hot summer days, it is absolutely crucial you keep the following in mind if you have small children or pets in your vehicle. It only takes 10 minutes for the temperature to reach 104 degrees if the outside temperature is 85 degrees. In 20 minutes, the temperature will reach 114 degrees. And in 30 minutes, it will be 119 degrees.**
Flows within the rivers and streams of Whatcom County are normal with no likelihood of flooding. Warmer temperatures will increase the snowmelt and while there may be very little change in river level, the water temperature twill be very cold and can cause muscle cramps or hypothermia. Exercise caution.
A thermal trough near the coast will shift over the Inland Waters on Monday and then into Eastern WA Monday night. There will be a southerly flow reversal at the coast on Monday then increasing onshore flow Monday night with gales possible through the Strait. An onshore flow pattern will prevail Tuesday through the end of the week. Winds. Today: NW wind to 10 knots rising to 5-15 knots in the afternoon. Wind waves 2' or less. Tonight: NW wind 5-15 knots becoming S 15-25 knots after midnight. Wind waves 2' or less building to 2-4' after midnight. Tomorrow: S wind 15-25 knots easing to 10-20 knots in the afternoon . Wind waves 2-4'. Tomorrow Night: W S wind 20-30 knots easing to 15-25 knots after midnight. Wind waves 3-5'.
Emergency Management Tips and Reminders
As we enter into the summer months temperatures will be on the rise and vegetation will begin to dry out and with that comes the increased risk of wildland fires. Now is the time to familiarize yourself with your local jurisdictions restrictions and for unincorporated Whatcom County residents visit the Whatcom County Fire Marshal's website at https://www.whatcomcounty.us/381/Fire-Marshal.
Excessive Heat Tips
While there is nothing we can do to stop the heat over the coming days, there are things we can do to reduce our exposure to its effects. This is not a complete list.
- If possible, stay in an air-conditioned location
- Drink more water than usual; do not wait until you're thirsty to drink water.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
- Avoid using the stove or oven as this will add to the heat in your home.
- Limit your outdoor activity.
- Use sunscreen if outdoors
- Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
- Complete tasks early or late in the day to avoid the hottest part of the day.
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/
Information concerning face coverings and other protective actions can be found 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.