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The original item was published from 12/21/2022 4:23:10 PM to 12/27/2022 12:00:03 AM.

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Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 21, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Wednesday, December 21, 2022 Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Active Incidents



-  North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter:


-  SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM PST THURSDAY for northeast winds 20 to 30 knots.   Advisory Location: Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.

-  FREEZING SPRAY ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THURSDAY.  Moderate accumulations of freezing spray possible.  Advisory Location:  Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.  Operating a vessel in freezing spray is hazardous.   Freezing spray may render mechanical and electronic components   inoperative. Ice accretion on decks and superstructures may   result in some loss of stability. Conditions will be hazardous   to small craft.

-  WIND CHILL ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THURSDAY for very cold wind chills. Wind   chills as low as 10 below zero.

-  WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY EVENING for heavy mixed precipitation possible. Total snow accumulations of up to four inches and ice accumulations of up to one tenth of   an inch possible.


-   Environment Canada has also issued an "Arctic Outflow Warning" for the Fraser Valley west including Abbotsford.

Inland Whatcom County Weather: 

See Advisories, watches and warnings above.  Cold with northeast Fraser outflow winds gusting to 40 mph today. High temperatures only reaching the mid to upper teens making wind chills around minus 15 degrees.  Cold tonight with lows in single digits in places.  Winds will die down some but wind chills will continue to be near minus 15 degrees. Partly cloudy overnight. Tomorrow, less wind but still cold.  Predicted high for Bellingham tomorrow is 24 degrees with Sumas coming in at 20 degrees and Newhalem topping out at 16 degrees.  Winds tomorrow will be more from an easterly direction 20-25 mph. Increasing clouds tomorrow with the chance for snow overnight. Less than one inch predicted for Bellingham but towards the foothills, amounts could be a few inches.  Chance for freezing rain county-wide early Friday morning as next weather system moves into the area.  This will lead to hazardous driving conditions until precipitation switches over to all rain later in the day.  Friday will see temperatures begin to warm with highs in Bellingham forecast to get to 39 degrees.  Extended weather calls for continuing warming trend and moderate to heavy rain from several weather systems coming out of the Pacific.  This will lead to increased snow melt. Snow piled along sides of roads will act as dams and keep water on roadways leading to the possibility of hydroplaning.  Also, temperature changes will not be uniform and areas of frozen ice could develop causing treacherous driving conditions. Slow down!

The Mt Baker Ski Resort reported 9 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours. This  morning Heather Meadow is showing a base of 86" while Pan Dome is at 100". All chairs were open today with the exception of White Salmon Handle Tow which remains closed. See the Mt Baker Ski Report at:

Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams

The Nooksack River will see a rapid rise beginning Saturday.  A combination of factors are affecting the river level.  First, temperatures will reach the 50s by Sunday in places causing a rapid snow melt.  Second, there are several moist weather systems beginning to affect the area.  Until the NWS begins to predict how much rain will fall, it is difficult to say just how high the river-level will get.  That in and of itself however, is enough to drive anyone living in lower areas to maintain constant watch of river update information.  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 

Fraser river outflow winds will persist through  Thursday, aiding in the continued breezy east to northeast winds.  Much colder temperatures in conjunction with breezy winds will  increase the threat for freezing spray over the Northern Inland  Waters through Thursday. Active weather then continues as another  frontal system arrives Friday followed by another system Saturday.  Wind:  TONIGHT 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. A slight chance of snow in the afternoon.  THU NIGHT E wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. A chance  of snow in the evening then snow likely after midnight.  FRI SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less.  FRI NIGHT SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less.  SAT SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. 

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)

December 21, 202205008.94
December 21, 20220910
December 21, 202213429.29
December 21, 20222141
December 22, 202205479.80
December 22, 20221013
December 22, 202214209.37
December 22, 20222224
December 23, 2022063210.39*
December 23, 20221112
December 23, 202215049.37
December 23, 20222308

-3.00*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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