-Washington State Department of Transportation North Central Region – 2830 Euclid Ave. Wenatchee, WA 98801– 509-667-3000
North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter: Nov. 8, 2022 - WINTHROP – With nearly 30 inches of snowfall over the weekend, SR 20 North Cascades Highway will remain closed for the winter between Ross Lake Dam trailhead (milepost 134) and Early Winters gate (milepost 178). The route was closed between milepost 134 and 171 for potential avalanche danger on Thursday, Nov. 3. Throughout the weekend, the North Cascades and the area surrounding the eastern slopes were repeatedly hit with snow and rain. Though the immediate avalanche danger is now low, conditions are likely to change. Maintaining the closure now will allow crews to focus time and resources on the communities east of the mountain passes that have received up to 2 feet of snow in places.
ADVISORIES, WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
Inland Whatcom County Weather
We're looking at a wet short work week with the exception of today as the clouds and weather systems set up for the remainder of the week. Look for cloudy skies today with temperatures climbing to near 50 degrees for the highs and lows overnight dropping into the mid-30s in Newhalem while the rest of us will see low 40s. Winds will be on the lighter side today from the southeast or northeast (Sumas). Rain will likely develop early tomorrow morning and will be with us for the day as will some gusty southeast winds which could gust into the mid 30mph range or a little higher in Bellingham. Other places will see some winds but a little less than the coastal areas. The wind will drop off some heading into tomorrow evening. Highs tomorrow will reach the low 50s with lows again in the low 40s (mid 30s in Newhalem). Newhalem could see one to two inches of rain tomorrow. The Mt Baker SKi Resort area will see some rain/snow mixtures tonight and then snow along with breezy conditions. Snowfall amounts will be in the three to five inch range with a couple more inches possible tomorrow night. That could make driving conditions difficult if a slush or snow buildup gets on the roadways.
Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams
The expected rainfall over the next several days will cause the Nooksack river forks and most likely creeks and small streams to rise some. The Nooksack River will remain well-below flood stage. Small streams and creeks are a little harder to gauge because of fallen trees or branches holding the water back. We haven't seen much of this year but it is possible. Clogged culvert or brush blocking drains could cause water to backup. If you notice that occurring, contact Public Works so they have a chance to look at the situation. For a look at the future river levels, use the Public Works website to check the river levels - https://www.whatcomcounty.us/666/Forecasts-Current-River-Conditions; it is tied into the NOAAs Northwest River Forecast Center. Also on the Public Works website is a list of closed roads caused by flooding when it arises.
Even though there is no high water concern at the moment, it is good to point out all of the cautions and warnings about not driving through water flowing over roads. Six inches of flowing water can move SUVs. Research alternate routes to get to and from your destination should you need to use them. Remember, river levels can change quickly, so don't put yourself in a position where you become stranded.
Whatcom County Coastal
A weak front will fall apart this morning. A much stronger front will arrive Tuesday, with a strong onshore push through the Strait of Juan de Fuca Tuesday night into Wednesday. High pressure returns midweek, with another front possibly arriving later in the week. Wind: TODAY Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. TONIGHT SE wind to 10 kt rising to 5 to 15 kt after midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less. A chance of rain after midnight. TUE SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. Rain. TUE NIGHT W wind 20 to 30 kt becoming SW 10 to 20 kt after midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft subsiding to 1 to 3 ft after midnight. WED SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less.
There are several periods over the next couple of days where winds are climbing into the "Small Craft Advisory" range. No advisories have been issued as of this moment but monitor marine weather for any changes as they can be made with little or no notice.
Emergency Management Tips and Reminders
Fall Cleanup and Maintenance for Your Car
Fall weather is here along with the changes that come with it. Here are a few things to accomplish as we transition to the unsettled weather:
-Inspect your car battery. Check the connections to make sure they are snug and tight. If there is a lot of corrosion around the post, have them cleaned so connections remain solid. Cold cranking amps are important as the days get colder. Check with your service provider to make sure your battery is up to the task; there's nothing worse than the fading cranking power of our battery on a cold day.
-Check your headlights to make sure they are not glazed or clouded over. With time, oxidation creates a film that results in a dimmer and more restricted illumination field. Having someone clean them or cleaning them yourself will make a dramatic improvement.
-Tires are extremely important for several reasons. Remaining tread provides traction as well as channeling water away from the place where the tire contacts the road. Reduction in tread enables water to build under the tire leading to hydroplaning and loss of control. Tread helps ensure better traction in snow.
-Streaks on your windshield or the inability of the wipers to make solid contact with the windshield is a sure indicator your visibility is probably being limited as well. If you're experiencing this, it's time to get new wipers. You can install them yourself, or in some cases depending on where you purchase them, attendants will install them for you.
-Car repair in general. if your vehicle is demonstrating abnormal issues (e.g. difficult starting, unknown noises, blower fans not working or squeaking/rattling, etc.), have them looked at as soon as you can as you will soon need the defrost function in your car and other issues are unlikely to get better on their own.
Several inquiries have been made to this office regarding sand and sandbags. Whatcom County does not provide either prior to a proclamation of emergency which is issued when flood conditions are clearly defined. In addition, the number of bags the county has is limited and obtaining sand or additional sandbags in the midst of a flood fight may be impossible or delayed, at the very least. The number of locations where these items are placed is also limited. If you are concerned about the need for sand or sandbags, now is the time for you to purchase these items through local vendors or order the sandbags online. Sand can be obtained through local landscaping or sand and gravel companies. In addition to sand and sandbags, some responders use plastic layered with sandbags to provide a protective barrier. There are a number of short you tube videos explaining a variety of sandbag protective methods. Whattcom County Public Works also has developed a list of vendors who have sand and sandbags for sale. See: https://whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/70454/UPDATED-Public-Sand-Sandbag-Availability-2022-2023
While we have been extremely fortunate concerning the risk for wildfire to date, things could change rapidly with dry, hot weather. Now is the time to inventory your home environment to see what wildfire risks you can mitigate against. To that extent, the following information was taken from the National Fire Protection Agency on wildfire preparedness. Additional information about the wildfires and the Firewise program can be found at the NFPA website: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Wildfire/Preparing-homes-for-wildfire
1. HOME IGNITION ZONES: To increase your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire, choose fire-resistant building materials and limit the amount of flammable vegetation in the three home ignition zones. The zones include the Immediate Zone: (0 to 5 feet around the house), the Intermediate Zone (5 to 30 feet), and the Extended Zone (30 to 100 feet).
2. LANDSCAPING AND MAINTENANCE: To reduce ember ignitions and fire spread, trim branches that overhang the home, porch, and deck and prune branches of large trees up to 6 to 10 feet (depending on their height) from the ground. Remove plants containing resins, oils, and waxes. Use crushed stone or gravel instead of flammable mulches in the Immediate Zone (0 to 5 feet around the house). Keep your landscape in good condition.
3. ROOFING AND VENTS: Class A fire-rated roofing products, such as composite shingles, metal, concrete, and clay tiles, offer the best protection. Inspect shingles or roof tiles and replace or repair those that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration. Box in eaves, but provide ventilation to prevent condensation and mildew. Roof and attic vents should be screened to prevent ember entry.
4. DECKS AND PORCHES: Never store flammable materials underneath decks or porches. Remove dead vegetation and debris from under decks and porches and between deck board joints.
5. SIDING AND WINDOWS: Embers can collect in small nooks and crannies and ignite combustible materials; radiant heat from flames can crack windows. Use fire-resistant siding such as brick, fibercement, plaster, or stucco, and use dual-pane tempered glass windows.
6. EMERGENCY RESPONDER ACCESS: Ensure your home and neighborhood have legible and clearly marked street names and numbers. Driveways should be at least 12 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 15 feet for emergency vehicle access.
7. FINAL THOUGHTS:
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.