Multiple hazards for Whatcom County and the inland waters today through Tuesday: Flood Watch, Wind Advisory, Gale Warning, Increased Landslide Risk. With these hazards, travel could be impacted. Tomorrow morning and evening commute to/from work impacted.
On August 18th, Governor Inslee ordered a statewide mask mandate. Please see the Governor's website at the following URL: https://www.governor.wa.gov/
COVID-19 - The “Proclamation of Emergency” signed by the Whatcom County Executive concerning COVID-19 remains in effect.
The United States has announced that fully vaccinated, non-citizen travelers with appropriate documentation will be permitted to enter the United States for non-essential travel via land Ports Of Entry and ferry terminals starting on November 8, 2021 and has released this fact sheet to assist those entering the United States. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/10/29/fact-sheet-guidance-travelers-enter-us-land-ports-entry-and-ferry-terminals.
Canada allows fully vaccinated Americans to visit Canada with these Canadian requirements: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/gbi-rgf-eng.html.
The National Weather Service has issued a "Gale Warning" for the northern inland waters including the San Juan Islands and Admiralty Inlet until 4:00pm Monday November 15th. South winds 25-35 mph are occurring. The previously issued " Small Craft Advisory" has been cancelled and replaced with this Gale Warning.
The National Weather Service has issued a "Wind Advisory" for Western Whatcom County that will remain in effect until 4:00pm this afternoon. South winds 30-40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph are possible. Loose items can be blown around and tree stability could be at risk due to the rainfall we have experienced. Broken branches or falling trees could cause sporadic power outages. There are no outages in Whatcom County at this time on the PSE outage map.
The National Weather Service has issued a "Special Weather Statement" as it pertains to landslides. Another round of heavy rainfall and gusty winds will lead to an increased threat of landslide in western Washington. Six to twelve inches of rain have already fallen over the last seven days with an additional two to four inches predicted. Saturated soil combined with gusty winds will put additional pressure on soil stability.
The National Weather Service has issued a "Flood Watch" which remains in effect through Tuesday afternoon for northwest Washington including Whatcom County. Continue to monitor latest river forecasts for indications a flood warning may need to be issued. Small creeks an streams may impacted first with water rising and exceeding their banks. Storm drains and culverts that are already clogged or may become clogged due to debris could also cause water to back up and flood low lying areas. Current river forecast models show all forks of the Nooksack rising at this time and by late this evening or very early tomorrow morning exceeding minor flood level and continuing to rise; it appears the South Fork of the Nooksack will be the first followed a short time later at the Cedarville gauge. Anyone living in low lying areas should be taking precautionary actions now in the event you must leave your home. This "window of opportunity" will go away as the day progresses. Some of this flooding will occur overnight so any visual references as to width and depth of the water will be virtually impossible.
Several key things for all drivers: 1. Have an alternate way to get to/from work. 2. Allow for additional travel time as there is likely to be traffic backups as others have to take the same action you are. 3. Slow down, there will be ponding of water on the roads and hydroplaning is a high probability; slowing down enables you to maintain control of your vehicle. 4. Use your light and signals to communicate with other drivers around you about your intentions.
SR-20 (North Cascades Highway) is closed for the season. The closure points are: milepost 134/Ross Dam Trailhead on the west side and milepost 151/Silver Star Gate on the east. The closure was originally set for November 15thl; however, heavy snowfall and the risk of avalanches have pushed the closure date up.
See the Washington State Department of Transportation website for intermittent lane closures on i-5 and SR-11 along Interstate 5 at milepost 250 near Old Fairhaven Parkway and along State Route 11 just west of I-5. This will go from October 20 through November 30.
Expect heavy rain today, tonight and tomorrow. The NWS is calling for 1-2 inches of rain during each of those 12 hour periods with Newhalem predicted to see a little more rain than other areas. This will rainfall will drain into creeks, streams, and rivers, and add to the volume and velocity currently being experienced. Temperatures today will be in the upper 50s to near 60 in Bellingham, lower 50s tonight and then mid 50s tomorrow. Temperature will continue dropping a few degrees each day through the work week. The snow level will drop from 7,000-8,000' to 1,500'-2,000' tomorrow night so there could be a few inches of snow at higher elevations. There could be some lingering showers on Tuesday and then drier for the remainder of the week.
Rivers and Streams
Expect all creeks, streams, and river forks to be affected by the current weather system passing our area. Current modeling shows all forks of the Nooksack River rising into minor and into moderate flooding over the next 18 hours. Beginning with the Saxon Bridge gauge current levels show 6' with reaching the minor flooding level of 8' sometime this evening and a projected crest at 9.0' or a little higher. The Cedarville Gauge now shows the minor flood level being exceeded before 8:00pm this evening. And the Ferndale Gauge also shows minor flooding threshold crossed at around 8:00pm this evening. Crossing the minor flood threshold does not mean flooding is not already taking place, there are many low lying areas affected earlier than that including Slater Road. One of the other features of this storm is that it is longer lasting which will impact road closures longer. It may be Tuesday or Wednesday before flood waters recede below flood level and even longer for low-lying road to be passable. Several key things for commuters: 1. Have and alternate way to get to/from work. 2. Allow for additional travel time as there is likely to be traffic backups as others have to take the same action you are. 3. Slow down, there will be ponding of water on the roads and hydroplaning is a high probability; slowing down enables you to maintain control of your vehicle. 4. Use your light and signals to communicate with other drivers around you about your intentions.
A warm front will lift north of the waters overnight. It will be followed by the passage of a very strong cold front on Monday. Winds will be elevated over the area waters through Monday. High pressure will build over the waters Tuesday into Wednesday. Winds. Today: S wind 5-15 knots becoming SW to 10 knots in the afternoon Wind waves 2' or less. A chance of rain. Tonight: SW wind 5-15 knots. Wind waves 2' or less. A slight chance of rain in the evening. Tomorrow: S wind to 10 knots in the morning becoming light. Wind waves 1' or less in the morning becoming less than 1'. A chance of rain. Tomorrow Night: E wind to 10 knots becoming SE 5-15 knots after midnight. Wind waves 2' or less. Sunday. S wind 15-25 knots rising to 20-30 knots in the afternoon . Wind waves 305'. Rain. Sunday Night. NE wind 20-30 knots becoming SE after midnight. Wind waves 3-5'. Rain. Sunday. S wind 25-35 knots becoming W in the afternoon. Wind waves 4-6'. Rain in the morning then rain likely in the afternoon.
Emergency Management Tips and Reminders
As we move deeper into the month of November, we're seeing more and more weather systems impacting our area with rain in the lowlands and snow in the upper elevations with accumulations that are moderate. Snow and cold weather introduce a whole new realm of driving considerations versus summer months. In order to help make the preparations a little easier, the following are some tips from the National Safety Council (https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/seasonal-safety/winter-safety/driving):
In addition to annual maintenance, here are some tips to winterize your car:
My car does what? is a national campaign to help educate drivers about the safety features built into vehicles. Search for your car and find out what safety features are already built in.
Traction control is now standard on most new vehicles. This function helps your vehicle gain traction on snowy, icy or wet surfaces, particularly when accelerating from a stopped or slowed position, or when trying to make it up a slippery hill.
Anti-lock braking system (ABS) helps you steer in emergencies by restoring traction to your tires and is standard on most new vehicles as well. ABS may vibrate or pulse when engaged. This is normal. Continue to press and hold pressure to the brake pedal.
Remember, you are your car's best safety feature. Take precautions to ensure you arrive safely at your destination. If you become stranded in an unfamiliar area, do not leave your car. Light flares in front and behind the car and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, mud or objects.
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.