-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 9 PM PST THIS EVENING; the GALE WARNING IS CANCELLED. Northeast winds of 20-30 knots are associated with the Small Craft Advisory. This is the Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.
Inland Whatcom County Weather:
Between the northeast wind (gusts to 20-23 mph) and the temperatures, it will be cold today as wind chills are likely to range from the teens to the low 20s even though the high will get up to 31 under partly to mostly sunny skies. And tonight, even though the wind will die down, temperatures will drop into the teens in the foothills and higher elevations and low 20s in other locations causing wind chills in the single digits and teens. There will be increasing clouds as well with some snow flurries around the area. Any snow accumulation will be light, at best. Tomorrow's temperatures will be slightly warmer with an increased chance for snow. The foothills are likely to see some accumulation from 1-4" while the lowlands should not see much accumulation at all. Winds are going to switch around to the south/southeast in most locations.
For the Mt Baker Ski Resort: About 7" of new snow has fallen in the last 24 hours. It looks like some of the chair lifts are open but double check before heading up to the mountain for current conditions. There is a variable snow base advisory listed on the website.
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
No change here. 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 trough will weaken along the coast today with high pressure remaining in place over the interior of British Columbia. A broad area of low pressure will track southward into the offshore waters early Friday with an associated occluded front reaching the coast Friday night. Surface low pressure associated with the front is expected to track southward offshore over the weekend. Wind: TODAY N wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 5 to 7 ft. A slight chance of snow in the morning. TONIGHT NE wind 15 to 25 kt becoming E 10 to 20 kt after midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. FRI E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. A slight chance of rain in the morning then a chance of rain in the afternoon. FRI NIGHT E wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. SAT E wind 15 to 25 kt becoming NE 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft.
Several periods of 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.