-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:
None at this time; however, the forecast calls for snow/heavy snow at time near the Mt Baker Ski Resort later this week so a Winter Weather Advisory may be issued at some point. Make sure you check the weather along your route of travel before starting your trip.
Inland Whatcom County Weather
Some drizzle around the county today which will taper off later this afternoon. Skies will range from partly cloudy to cloudy depending on where you are in the county. Temperatures will climb into the upper 40s most locations with some low 50s. Overnight lows will drop down to near the freezing level in Maple Falls with everyone else in the mid to upper 30s. There could be some fog in areas as well. Tomorrow will be partly to mostly sunny and temperatures will be a few degrees warmer-low to mid-50s coastal areas and foothills. There will be some southerly wind with gusts in the low to mid 20 mph range, but nothing excessive. Lows tomorrow night will again drop into the 30s to near 40 in most locations with the exception of the foothills and higher elevations where temperatures will drop to near the freezing level once again. Tomorrow night will also usher in more precipitation across the county beginning as showers but becoming a steady rain as we move into Friday and the weekend. Higher elevations such as the ski resort will see rain/snow mixtures turning to all snow. That translates to rain/snow and possibly slush building up on the roads below the resort elevation level. If you are traveling to higher elevations, make sure your emergency kit is in your car and let someone know your travel plans.
Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams
The Nooksack River saw a little bit of a spike over the past 24 hours but is falling lower at this time. Looking out for the next 10 days, it will continue to flow well-below flood stage unless something significant changes in the weather pattern. 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
High pressure will rebuild over the area waters today allowing for onshore flow to ease. Another front is slated to arrive Thursday night into Friday. Wind: TODAY SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. A slight chance of rain in the morning. A slight chance of drizzle. TONIGHT E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. THU SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft. THU NIGHT S wind 5 to 15 kt becoming 10 to 20 kt after midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. FRI SW wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. FRI NIGHT W wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. SAT S wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft. SUN SW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming E to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft.
Tide Data (Cherry Point)
*Denotes King Tide
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.