SR-20 closed west of Winthrop-wildfires. SR-9 reopened; intermittent single-lane closures. Temps slightly above normal for this time of year. Skies clearing with haze in the foothills. Possible rain tonight thru Saturday night. Fire danger remains high.
COVID-19 - The “Proclamation of Emergency” signed by the Whatcom County Executive concerning COVID-19 remains in effect.
The U.S. has extended an order closing the shared border to nonessential traffic until at least August 21, 2021. Canada will allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit Canada beginning August 9th. However, there are several additional requirements you need to be aware of. See Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for additional requirements: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/gbi-rgf-eng.html.
Advisories, Watches and Warning
SR 20 North Cascades Highway is closed approximately 9 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 travelers, 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 . There are additional requirements for travel so see the CBSA website.
State Route 9: The full closure of SR-9 is complete; however, there will be intermittent single lane closures continuing through the month of August and possible into September. More information will forthcoming. Expect some delays during this time. as crews continue to complete the project. 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.
Today is kind of a transition day. Temperatures will still be a few degrees above normal and skies will clear in most areas (there will still be some haze or maybe even a little smoke that filters down from the fires in Canada to the north or Okanogan County to the east). We can expect some wind in the Point Roberts area where gusts could approach 25 mph. Everyone else may see a southerly breeze in the 5-15 mph range. Clouds roll in later and dare I say bring with them the possibility of rain which could last several days though is may be showers during periods of time. We won't see any washouts but roads will be slick and the fire danger will not change-we'll need several weeks of showers and rain to turn that around and that's not on the horizon yet. We will see cooler temperatures with the frontal system though so expect highs tomorrow to be around 70 degrees or a little above in Bellingham and Point Roberts and around 75 in Sumas. Lows will remain near 60 degrees.
The fire danger 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.**
Rivers and Streams
Flows within the rivers and streams of Whatcom County are normal; expect them to continue to flow steady at current levels.
Whatcom County Coastal Weather
Onshore flow will increase through this evening . A cold front will arrive tonight and another weather system will reach western Washington by daybreak Saturday. Winds. Today: S wind 5-15 knots. Wind waves 1-2'. Tonight: S wind 15-20 knots. Wind waves 2-3'. A chance of rain. Tomorrow: SW wind 10-20 knots becoming S 5-15 knots in the afternoon. Wind waves 1-3'. A chance of rain in the morning then a slight chance of showers in the afternoon. Tomorrow Night. S wind 15-25 knots easing to 10-20 knots after midnight. wind waves 2-4'.
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Emergency Management Tips and Reminders
Fuels are dry with lower humidity and temperatures that can be expected to reach into the 80s. 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).
Before a wildfire threatens your area…
In and around your home
- Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
- Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house. Learn more about the basics of defensible space on the Firewise website.
- Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
- Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
- Wildfire can spread to tree tops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
- Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
- Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
- Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
- Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
- Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry.
- Learn more about how to protect your home and property at www.firewise.org.
Creating an emergency plan
- Assemble an emergency supply kit and place it in a safe spot. Remember to include important documents, medications and personal identification.
- Develop an emergency evacuation plan and practice it with everyone in your home.
- Plan two ways out of your neighborhood and designate a meeting place.
- Learn more about emergency preparedness planning on NFPA’s emergency planning webpage.
In your community:
- Contact your local planning/zoning office to find out if your home is in a high wildfire risk area, and if there are specific local or county ordinances you should be following.
- If you are part of a homeowner association, work with them to identify regulations that incorporate proven preparedness landscaping, home design and building material use.
- Talk to your local fire department about how to prepare, when to evacuate, and the response you and your neighbors can expect in the event of a wildfire.
- Learn about wildfire risk reduction efforts, including how land management agencies use prescribed fire to manage local landscapes.
- Learn how you can make a positive difference in your community.
During the time a wildfire is in your area…
- Stay aware of the latest news and updates from your local media and fire department. Get your family, home and pets prepared to evacuate.
- Place your emergency supply kit and other valuables in your vehicle.
- Move patio or deck furniture, cushions, door mats and potted plants in wooden containers either indoors or as far away from the home, shed and garage as possible.
- Close and protect your home’s openings, including attic and basement doors and vents, windows, garage doors and pet doors to prevent embers from penetrating your home.
- Connect garden hoses and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs, or other large containers with water. Firefighters have been known to use the hoses to put out fires on rooftops.
- Leave as early as possible, before you’re told to evacuate. Do not linger once evacuation orders have been given. Promptly leaving your home and neighborhood clears roads for firefighters to get equipment in place to fight the fire, and helps ensure residents’ safety.
After a wildfire has been contained…
- Continue to listen to news updates for information about the fire. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
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.