-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.
- While there are about 250 PSE customers without power in Whatcom County, most of the outages are down south near Bothell and east of there. All told, there are 251 PSE outages with 24,661 customer impacted. The PSE outage map can be viewed at: https://www.pse.com/outage/outage-map
ADVISORIES, WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
- SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT PST TONIGHT for southwest winds 15-30 knots. This is for the northern Inland Waters including The San Juan Islands.
- GALE WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE TONIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING for northeast winds 25-35 knots for the northern Inland Waters including The San Juan Islands.
- WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON ABOVE 1000 FEET for heavy snow above 1000 feet. Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches. This is for the Cascade mountains and valleys of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, including Maple Falls, the Mount Baker Ski Area, Newhalem, Lyman, and Concrete, Cascade mountains and valleys of Snohomish and King Counties, including Darrington, Index, Skykomish, Stevens Pass, and Snoqualmie Pass and Cascade mountains and valleys of Pierce and Lewis Counties, including the Crystal Mountain Ski Area, Paradise on Mount Rainier, Ashford, Randle, and Packwood.
Inland Whatcom County Weather:
Expect partly sunny skies today along the coast with southwest winds gusting to 20 mph or a little higher. Temperatures will top out around 40 degrees. And there will be a slight chance of some snow showers though little accumulation is expected, if at all. Lows tonight will be cold dropping down to near 20 degrees. The wind will shift to the northeast and continue with gusts to 20-23 mph. A slight chance of snow will continue but again, little to no accumulation forecast. Pt Roberts will see winds a little stronger with some gusts to 30 mph today and perhaps 41 mph tonight. Wind chills will be between 10-20 degrees overnight. Snow/rain chances are a little greater in Pt Roberts and there could be accumulations of an inch or so overnight there. Tomorrow will start out cloudy with a slight chance of snow yet, but clouds should move out out and sunny but windy conditions will continue for the remainder of the day. Along the Cascade front, the wind will continue to gust near 30 mph switching from the southwest to the northeast tonight. Highs will be near 30 but lows will be in the upper teems tonight and mid-teens tomorrow night. Slight chance for snow in Sumas continues through tomorrow morning. Rain/snow mixtures will continue in the Maple Falls area with perhaps one inch of snow accumulation while Newhalem will see all snow and the possibility of another two to four inches today today. Temperatures will be about the same as Sumas and the wind will also blow but not quite as hard as in Sumas.
For the Mt Baker Ski Resort: Looks like there could be another 3-7" of snow today with 1-2" tonight still possible. According to the Mt Baker Ski Resort Snow Report, 18" of new snow has fallen over the past 24 hours.
For everyone traveling over the next few days, pack your winter safety kit and communicate your travel plans-departure and arrival times along with planned route of travel.
Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams
We are not seeing anything on the horizon that is cause for concern at this time concerning river flooding. Snow, instead of rain in the higher elevations means less water draining into the rivers at this time. 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.
Whatcom County Coastal
A surface low will gradually fill over Vancouver Island as an associated frontal system pushes onshore this morning. Surface high pressure expanding southward over interior British Columbia will lead to another round of Fraser outflow winds later tonight into Thursday. Another front will reach the area on Friday. Wind: TODAY SW wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. A chance of rain. TONIGHT NE wind 15 to 25 kt rising to 25 to 35 kt after midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft building to 4 to 6 ft after midnight. A chance of rain. THU NE wind 25 to 35 kt becoming N 20 to 30 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft. A chance of rain in the morning. THU NIGHT NE wind 10 to 20 kt becoming E 15 to 25 kt after midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. FRI E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft.
Several periods of either Gale Force Wind or Small Craft Advisory level winds are forecast over the next several days. Monitor marine weather to ensure you have the most up to date information.
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.