-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 4 AM PST SATURDAY for east winds 15 to 30 kt. Locations include: The Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.
Inland Whatcom County Weather:
Expect a chilly day today with highs only getting in the 30s, possible 40 in Pt Roberts. But, there will be an east wind in Pt Roberts gusting to 33 mph or a little more. Sumas will also see some northeast wind but not as strong, perhaps 20 mph gusts or a little stronger. There is a chance for some snow today but only in Newhalem is there a prediction for an accumulation of 1-3 inches and that is supposed to occur this evening. Wind chills in areas that see those higher gusts will be in the teens. As we work our way into the evening, the snow will become a rain/snow mixture for the lower areas of the county, but still no accumulation expected. Overnight lows will be in the 20s. Tomorrow will be slightly warmer with rain/snow showers to begin with and then clearing as the day progresses. The wind will still be a problem as it flows out of the Fraser Valley; Sumas and lynden could see gusts to 30mph. Other locations will experience east/northeast winds under 10 mph. Tomorrow night will be mostly clear which means colder temperatures across the county. Sunday also looks to be sunny with highs and lows about the same as Saturday. Monday will see mostly sunny skies but a few degrees cooler.
Mt Baker Ski Resort: There has been no new snow over the last 24 hours but 3-5 inches of new snow are forecast for tonight. Some of the chair lifts are open but always double-check things before heading up to the mountain. 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 low pressure system will track southward over the offshore waters today with an associated occluded front reaching the coast Friday night. As the low shifts southward, quieter conditions will develop in its wake and persist into early next week. Wind: TODAY E wind 15 to 25 kt rising to 20 to 30 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. A slight chance of snow showers in the morning then a slight chance of showers and snow in the afternoon. TONIGHT E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. Rain likely in the evening then rain after midnight. SAT NE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. A chance of rain in the morning. SAT NIGHT NE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SUN NE wind 15 to 25 kt becoming N 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SUN NIGHT NE wind to 10 kt becoming E 5 to 15 kt after midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less. MON SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. 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.