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The original item was published from 12/9/2022 3:55:26 PM to 12/15/2022 12:00:03 AM.

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Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 9, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Friday, December 09, 2022 Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Active Incidents



-  North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter:


-   GALE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST SATURDAY for southeast winds 30 to 40 kt.  This is for the northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.

-  WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 10 AM PST SATURDAY for east winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph expected.  This is for San Juan County, Western Whatcom County, Western Skagit County, Admiralty Inlet Area and Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca.

-  WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 4 PM PST SATURDAY.  Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of up to 5
  to 24 inches.  This is for the Cascade mountains and valleys of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, including, the Mount Baker Ski Area, and Cascade mountains of Pierce and Lewis Counties, including the Crystal Mountain Ski Area, Paradise on Mount Rainier, and Ashford.

-  Environment Canada has issued a "Gale Warning" for the Strait of Georgia-South of Nanaimo.  Wind southeast 20 knots increasing to southeast 20-30 knots near noon then becoming southeast 25-35 knots this afternoon.  Wind becoming southeast 20-30 knots late overnight except southeast 35 knots south of Tsawwassen.  Wind becoming southeast 20 knots Saturday morning then backing to east 5-15 knots Saturday evening.

Inland Whatcom County Weather: 

Continued wet with some rain/snow mixtures in the foothills and all snow at higher elevations.  Wind from the southeast in the 20 and 30 mph ranges. Highs for today will be in the low to mid 40s with the exception of Newhalem which will see  a high of 31 today.  Rain or Rain and snow with wind will continue this evening and temperatures will drop into the low 30s for the foothills and lower elevations. Tomorrow, look for rain or rain/snow mixtures once again in the lower areas of the county and rain/snow mixtures at higher elevations.  Highs tomorrow will still reach temperatures in the low 40s but lows will be a few degrees cooler. The wind in Pt Roberts will blow even a little harder than it did today. while other places will see the wind dying off somewhat.  Sunday will start off a little wet but clouds will move out later in the day and there will be partly sunny skies to close out the day. Temperatures will still reach the low 40s but overnight lows are going to be a little cooler with most readings dropping into the 20s.  Monday should be partly to mostly sunny.

Mt Baker Ski Resort: Snow is in the forecast for 2-4 inches today, 12-18 inches tonight and another 7-11 inches tomorrow.   Seven inches of snow have fallen in the last 24 hours.  Looks like all the chairs are open except White Salmon Handle Tow which still shows closed today.  Things keep looking better and better for skiers. A number of chairs lifts are open.  See the Mt Baker Ski Report at:

Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams

No real change here.  The weather system impacting our area over the next couple of days will cause the river level to come up just a little.  Snow, instead of rain in the higher elevations means less water draining into the rivers at this time and the water that does drain into the system can easily be handled by current river channel.  For a look at the future river levels, use the Public Works website to check the river levels -; 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 vigorous frontal system will move through the  area tonight, bringing storm force winds and wind gusts to the  coastal waters and through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with gale  force winds likely over the northern inland waters and Admiralty  Inlet. Winds will gradually ease through the day Saturday, with  weak high pressure then expected to produce quieter conditions  through early next week.    Wind: TONIGHT E wind 25 to 35 kt becoming SE 30 to 40 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 5 to 7 ft. Rain in the evening then rain  likely after midnight.  SAT SE wind 25 to 35 kt easing to 20 to 30 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft. Rain likely in the morning then  a chance of rain in the afternoon.  SAT NIGHT SE wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less after  midnight. Rain likely in the evening then a chance of rain after  midnight.  SUN E wind 5 to 15 kt becoming N 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft in the afternoon.  SUN NIGHT N wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft.  MON NE wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 20 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft.
Aside from the Gale Warning currently in effect, several periods of Small Craft Advisory 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)

December 09, 202215398.01
December 09, 20222351
December 10, 2022080710.24*
December 10, 20221344
December 10, 202216077.77
December 11, 20220026
December 11, 2022084410.14
December 11, 20221438
December 11, 202216397.50
December 12, 20220102
December 12, 2022092010.00
December 13, 20220140

*Denotes King Tide

King Tides In Whatcom County For 2022/2023


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:


11/25/2022Fri7:22 AM10.23
11/26/2022Sat8:14 AM10.43
11/27/2022Sun9:07 AM10.45
11/28/2022Mon10:00 AM10.36
11/29/2022Tue10:51 AM10.22
12/9/2022Fri7:31 AM10.22
12/10/2022Sat8:07 AM10.24
12/23/2022Fri6:32 AM10.39
12/24/2022Sat7:17 AM10.72
12/25/2022Sun8:01 AM10.83
12/26/2022Mon8:44 AM10.8
12/27/2022Tue9:25 AM10.67
12/28/2022Wed10:04 AM10.49
12/29/2022Thu10:41 AM10.28
1/21/2023Sat6:21 AM10.52
1/22/2023Sun6:57 AM10.69
1/23/2023Mon7:31 AM10.72
1/24/2023Tue8:03 AM10.66
1/25/2023Wed8:34 AM10.53
1/26/2023Thu9:03 AM10.31

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.)

Cherry Point Is The Official Whatcom County Tide Gauge


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.

Flood Preparedness.  

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:


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.

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