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The original item was published from 12/16/2022 11:05:08 AM to 12/22/2022 12:00:04 AM.

News Flash

Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 16, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Friday, December 16, 2022 Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Active Incidents



-  North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter:



Inland Whatcom County Weather: 

Dense fog can be found in many locations around the county this morning making driving somewhat difficult.  It is expected to burn off as the day goes by and leave us with at least some mostly sunny skies.  Temperatures will climb to the 30s and come close to 40 before dropping for the evening.  The wind should stay light today. Tonight will be partly cloudy with increasing clouds later.  Overnight lows will drop into the 20s and we should expect fog and possibly slippery roads due to ice fog settling on roads, bridges, or overpasses.  Rain/snow is in the forecast for places around the county tomorrow. Most areas should not see any accumulation but that is not the case for higher elevations.  Winds will pickup as well in Pt Roberts and Sumas with gusts in the 25-30 mph range or even a little higher from a northeast direction. Highs tomorrow will be in the 30s yet. Tomorrow night's low will continue to drop into the 20s and low 30s. Maple Falls and Newhalem could see a little accumulation of snow but lower areas of the county will continue with a chance for rain/snow mixtures.  Sunday will see colder temperatures with Newhalem only reaching 25 and Bellingham topping out around 34.  The chance for rain/snow or snow l continues.  Newhalem will see a chance for accumulations of 2-4".  Sunday night will  see temperatures in the teens across the county with Bellingham dropping to 18 degrees or so and Newhalem around 14. Wind chills could range from minus five to plus five degrees.

The Mt Baker Ski Resort is looking for some snow beginning Saturday with Saturday night seeing 1"-3"of accumulation and Sunday another 2"-4" of snow.  This  morning Heather Meadow is showing a base of 67" while Pan Dome is at 83". Chair 1 and 2 are closed as is Heather Meadows Handle Tow based on the website but keep checking for changes. See the Mt Baker Ski Report at:

Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams

No change here.  The Nooksack River Gauge at Ferndale shows a slight decrease over the next five days;  however, there is an increasing chance we will see some heavier precipitation which will cause the river to rise substantially over the current level, but not to flood level.  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 

Light offshore flow will persist today. Onshore  flow will develop over the weekend. Fraser outflow is expected  early next week.   Wind: TODAY Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft.  TONIGHT Light wind becoming W to 10 kt after midnight. Wind  waves less than 1 ft.  SAT SW wind to 10 kt becoming S in the afternoon. Wind waves  1 ft or less. A chance of rain.  SAT NIGHT E wind 5 to 15 kt becoming NE 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 ft or less building to 2 to 4 ft after  midnight.  SUN NE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft.  SUN NIGHT NE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft.  MON NE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. 

Note:  There are a couple of periods where winds reach "Small Craft Advisory" levels; however, no advisories have been issued as of this time.  Monitor marine weather for changing conditions.
Tide Data (Cherry Point)

December 16, 20220344
December 16, 202211329.40
December 16, 20221856
December 16, 202223305.12
December 17, 20220434
December 17, 202211579.28
December 17, 20221925
December 18, 202201275.66
December 18, 20220535
December 18, 202212219.19
December 18, 20221955
December 19, 202203006.68

*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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