Winter Storm Warning is over; however, road conditions will continue to be an issue. Public Works address highest priority roads first and then branches to to secondary roads. High today 20ish with wind chills much colder. Lows tonight in the teens.
- North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter:
ADVISORIES, WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
- SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM PST THURSDAY for northeast winds 20 to 30 knots. Advisory Location: Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.
- FREEZING SPRAY ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM WEDNESDAY TO 1 PM PST THURSDAY. Moderate accumulation of freezing spray is possible. Advisory Location: Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.
- Environment Canada has also issued a "Freezing Spray Warning in Effect" for the Strait of Georigia-South of Nanaimo. Wind variable 5 to 15 knots except northeast 15 to 20 south of Tsawwassen late this morning. Wind becoming easterly 15 to 20 this evening except northeast 20 to 30 south of Tsawwassen. Wind becoming easterly 15 to 25 early Wednesday morning except northeast 30 south of Tsawwassen.
Inland Whatcom County Weather:
While the snow has ended, the cold will continue with wind chills dropping below 0 degrees in many places. Highs today were supposed to reach into the 20s in Bellingham, but at the moment, 19 degrees is as high as we have been. Skies were supposed to be partly sunny today, but that didn't materialize either. So, look for continued clouds overnight with temperatures in the teens. Wind chills will continue in the minus 6 to plus 12 degrees depending on where you're at. The northern part of the county will be impacted by the east/northeast winds gusting to 25 mph or so. Tomorrow, we will again look for some partly to mostly sunny skies with temperatures much like today. Wind chills will continue to be cold. Wind will continue to blow out of the northeast in the 20-30 mph range in the northern part of the county. Tomorrow night there is also. Thursday will bring a chance of snow once again to the area. Snow amounts range from 1-3 to 2-4 inches. A chance of some freezing rain could develop on Thursday afternoon after 4:00pm. The chance for some freezing rain will continue into Friday. We will also see temperaures begin to increase on Friday. Warmer temperatures along with forecast rain will begin to melt the snow rather quickly. This is something to keep an eye on.
The Mt Baker Ski Resort reported 17 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours. This morning Heather Meadow is showing a base of 89" while Pan Dome is at 10391". 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: https://www.mtbaker.us/snow-report/
Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams
No change at this time although we are seeing indications the river will rise over December 25th but not to levels that will cause flooding. There is a caveat to that. We just finished up with a fairly good amount of snow. Warmer temperatures and rain are in the forecast beginning Friday and continuing through the weekend. it is important you check river conditions from time to time as they could change rapidly with those conditions. 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
Fraser river outflow winds will persist through Thursday. Another frontal system will arrive Friday followed by another system Saturday. Wind: TONIGHT NE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. A slight chance of snow in the evening. WED NE wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. WED NIGHT NE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. THU E wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. THU NIGHT E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. FRI SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less.
Note: There are several periods where winds reach "Small Craft Advisory" levels over the next couple of days in addition to the current advisory. Monitor marine weather for changing conditions. Tide Data (Cherry Point)
-3.00*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.