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 August 09, 2021; after that, there are still restrictions in place to some degree; you must check with US Customs and Border Protection and Canada Border Security Agency for specific details.
A "Small Craft Advisory" is in effect from 11:00pm this evening until 5:00am Saturday morning for northwest winds 15-25 knots including the northern inland waters, the San Juan Islands, and Admiralty Inlet.
A "Heat Advisory" went into effect last night (Thursday) below 4000 feet until 11:00pm Saturday night. Low temperatures in the 60s Friday morning will increase to the 90s by afternoon, with little relief expected Friday night due to low in the upper 60s. And the Saturday highs are expected to be in the 90s once again, in places.
SR 20 North Cascades Highway is closed approximately 6 miles west of Winthrop due to firefighting activities. **AS OF MONDAY, JULY 12 AT 10AM: ROAD CLOSED to all traffic due to fire activity.** There is no estimated time for reopening of the road and this closure is expected to remain in place through the weekend. See WSDOT for updates. The Cedar Creek Fire situation report can be found on the WA DNR website under wildfires.
The Whatcom County Fire Marshal has issued a Stage 2 Burn Ban for unincorporated Whatcom County; it will remain in effect until further notice . For more information, see the following site for more information about this announcement: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/381/Fire-Marshal
Governor Inslee has issued an Emergency Proclamation titled "Wildfires-Burn Ban". This burn ban "imposes a temporary outdoor burn ban by prohibiting all outdoor and agricultural burning in all 39 Washington Counties until noon on Thursday September 30, 2021." Of equal importance is another phrase in the proclamation: "Nothing in this order supersedes more restrictive provision of the counties, municipalities, fire districts, other political subdivision, or public or private landowners." If you review Whatcom County's Stage 2 Burn Ban you will see it IS more restrictive. Additionally, national park service, US Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, individual fire districts, etc. have their own set of rules which you must review and comply with.
American citizens and permanent residents of the United States, who currently reside in the U.S. and who qualify as fully vaccinated travellers, will be able to enter Canada for discretionary travel starting August 9. Details can be obtained by visiting https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/services/covid/menu-eng.html
State Route 9: The full closure is scheduled to wrap up by 7 a.m. on Friday (July 30th), with one lane of SR 9 reopening to traffic. WSDOT has been committed to fish barrier correction for more than three decades. A single removed barrier can deliver impressive benefits improving fish habitat both upstream and downstream. Interested in learning more about fish passages, check out our latest fish passage annual report.
Look for temperatures that range from the mid-80s to 90 today along with sunny skies. Winds will be light from the west/southwest up to 10mph. If you live in the northern part of the county or will be traveling that direction, you may notice a haze farther north or it may even drift a little south of the border; that would be smoke from the wildfires in BC. There are no alerts and winds aloft will be pushing it back to the north. On the other hand, there may be a haze in the southern sky from the Oregon fires. Still there are no air quality issues anticipated. As far as the weather tomorrow, we can expect above average temperatures once again although it may be a few degrees cooler than today. Remember, the heat advisory goes through tomorrow night. Then on Sunday temperatures will be about 10 degrees cooler than Saturday. There is a chance, just a chance, there could be some showers around the area on Sunday. One of the cautions that accompanies precipitation after such a long dry spell is the likelihood that an oil film will develop on the roads caused by vehicles losing a drip of oil here and there. That film will be very slick and can pose vehicle control problems if speeding or during sharp curves at higher speeds. If you guessed this is a message to slow down, you're right.
The fire danger which remains high. Before engaging in any outdoor work (e.g. cutting wood, using a weed eater, welding, etc.) or outdoor activities, think through what might create sparks or enough heat to ignite dry fuels. Where you park and the surface you park your vehicle (e.g. concrete, asphalt or grass) plays a huge role in possible ignition. You make the difference. Thank you.
**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; expect them to continue to flow steady at current levels.
Thermal low pressure is east of the Cascades and over California, while high pressure continues offshore. The westerly push of marine air in the Strait of Juan de Fuca will be stronger over the weekend and into next week with gales possible each night from Saturday through Tuesday. Winds. Today: SW wind to 10 knots becoming NW 10-20 knots in the afternoon. Wind waves 1' or less building to 1-3' in the afternoon. Tonight: SW wind 15-25 knots. Wind waves 2-4'. Saturday: N W wind 10-20 knotsw becoming NW 5-15 knots in the afternoon. Wind waves 1-3'. Saturday Night: SW wind 15-25 knots. wind waves 2-4'. Sunday: S wind 10-20 knots becoming 5-15 knots in the afternoon. Wind waves 1-3'. Sunday Night: S wind 15-25 knots. Wind waves 2-4'. Look for a "Small Craft Advisory" to be issued for period of 15-25 knots..
Emergency Management Tips and Reminders
Fuels are dry with lower humidity and temperatures that can be expected to reach into the 80s and 90s. Know what your local jurisdictions restrictions are concerning recreational fires, barbeques, etc. by checking your local jurisdictions website or contacting your local fire district. For unincorporated Whatcom County residents visit the Whatcom County Fire Marshal's website at https://www.whatcomcounty.us/381/Fire-Marshal.
See Advisories, Watches, and Warnings above for new or updated fire hazard restrictions (e.g. Stage 2 Burn Ban; Governor Inslee Wildfire Emergency Proclamation).
Emergency Management In The Backcountry
With the increased fire danger and currently burning fires, many parks, trails, and recreational areas have been closed or have a large number of restrictions. Before traveling, check ahead to make sure the area you are going to remains open at this time.
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.