-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:
- SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM THIS MORNING TO MIDNIGHT PST TONIGHT for southeast winds 15 to 25 knots becoming southwest 20 to 30 knots tonight. This is for the Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.- WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS EVENING ABOVE 3000 FEET for snow expected above 3000 feet. Total snow accumulations of 6 to 12 inches is expected. This is for the the Cascade mountains and valleys of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, including the Mount Baker Ski Area.
- WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS EVENING ABOVE 3000 FEET for snow expected above 3000 feet. Total snow accumulations of 6 to 12 inches is expected. This is for the the Cascade mountains and valleys of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, including the Mount Baker Ski Area.
Inland Whatcom County Weather
Rain has begun across the county but will start to ease up later today. We will see some breaks in the clouds overnight with some locations seeing some sun under partly cloudy skies tomorrow. Tomorrow night may even be partly cloudy before things turn again to showers and rain beginning on Thanksgiving Day and continuing into Friday. Temperatures have moderated and we will be getting close to 50 degrees through Friday. Newhalem and the Mt Baker Ski Resort Area are the exceptions. Lows overnight will drop into the 30s tonight and tomorrow night and there will be some west wind in the Pt Roberts areas with gusts that could touch 32 mph at times. Bellingham could see some wind gusts from the south/southeast to 25 mph. Rain amounts are limited to about 3/4 of an inch in the lower areas of the county and maybe an inch in the foothills. Once you get above 3000' you will have slush and snow to deal with so keep Winter Driving Conditions in mind if headed to the higher elevations.
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 a little. 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 culverts or brush blocking drains could cause water to backup in places. 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 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 strong front will move across the region today bringing increasing southerly winds to the area waters. A strong onshore push through the Strait of Juan de Fuca will occur tonight into Wednesday. High pressure will then return midweek, with another front slated to arrive late in the week. Wind: TODAY SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. Rain in the morning then a chance of rain in the afternoon. TONIGHT SW wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. A chance of rain in the evening then a slight chance of rain after midnight. WED S wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. A chance of rain. WED NIGHT E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. THU SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft.
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.
Tide Data (Cherry Point)
In Whatcom County we pay particular attention to King Tides that occur in the late fall / early winter as many times these coincide with, and can be aggravated by, our wind storms. This has resulted in significant impacts in our coastal communities, such as occurred in Birch Bay and Blaine in December of 2018 when over 5 million dollars in damage was caused by a King Tide and wind storm. We define a King Tide as a tide of at least 10.20 at Cherry Point (Whatcom Counties official tide station).
For those who are tide watchers, these are pretty impressive tides and fun to go see when they happen. However, when a westerly storm is added to a King Tide as happened in the 2018 storm, the tides were pushed nearly two feet higher from the storm pressure (called storm surge) and then the west wind added another 3-4 feet of waves. It is for these reasons that the Whatcom County Sheriff's
Office Division of Emergency Management, along with significant support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, keeps a close eye on King Tides.
Over the next couple months, we will have King Tides on the following days:
For each of these dates, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prepares a customreport for Whatcom County. This report is sent to the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office Division of Emergency Management who in turn broadcast it to the Whatcom County Coastal Warning Group, made up of key officials, public safety agencies, and organizations subject to coastal impacts (such as refineries, hotels, community groups and industry). For example, the Forecast for Whatcom County that was sent on January 6, 2022 predicting the potential impacts for January 7, 2022 coastal flooding was distributed to this group (See Forecast for Whatcom County at end of this article.)
Anyone mariner who travels our waters knows that the tides in along every shoreline in Whatcom County are slightly different. For example, on December 16th, the highest King Tide of the year (10.8 feet at 0736) occurs. The 10.8 feet is for the NOAA Cherry Point Tide Station. However, at Gooseberry Point the high tide is 10.3 feet at 0720. In Bellingham it is 9.8 feet at 0722, and in Blaine it is 11.0 feet at 0730. The reasons we see a difference has to do with the shape of the coast, depth of water, height of tide gauge and a host of other factors. However, for our planning and baseline we use Cherry Point.
For more information on King Tides, and to help scientists build a library of coastal impacts, you can visit the Washington King Tides program at the University of Washington.
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
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.