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The original item was published from 12/22/2022 4:27:12 PM to 12/28/2022 12:00:02 AM.


Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 22, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Thursday, December 22, 2022 Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Snow, freezing rain, followed by all rain are expected to affect Whatcom County over the next 24 hours. Temps down to upper teens tonight. Snow after midnight (1-2" lowlands). Light freezing rain after 6:00am changing to rain later. Highs near 30 degrees.

Active Incidents



-  North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter:


-  SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 AM PST SATURDAY GALE WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON for east winds 20 to 30 kt.  This if for the nNrthern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.


-  WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS EVENING for very cold wind chills. Wind chills as low as zero.

-  WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 PM PST FRIDAY for heavy mixed precipitation expected. Total snow accumulations of up to two inches and ice accumulations of up to two tenths of an inch.

-  National Weather Service Hydrologic Outlook:  THREAT OF URBAN AND RIVER RIVER FLOODING STARTING FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH EARLY NEXT WEEK ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON.  Additional moderate to heavy rainfall early next week is expected as a series of atmospheric rivers may take aim at the Pacific Northwest. Each of these potentially intense systems are lined up to impact the region every 24 hours or so.    Environment Canada has also issued an "Arctic Outflow Warning" for the Fraser Valley west including Abbotsford.

Inland Whatcom County Weather: 

There are a number of advisories, watches and warnings for our area as we head into the Christmas weekend (see above). For tonight, t the same time a weather system will work its way up from the south brining the chance for snow after midnight.  Lows tonight will be in the teens to around 20 degrees in Bellingham. After midnight a chance of snow will develop and 1-2 inches of the white stuff will fall in Bellingham with slightly higher amounts in the foothills and higher elevations. At some point after 6:00am, a chance of freezing rain will develop.  While the amount sounds small - .01" (one one-hundreth) or slightly more for our area, it is more than enough to create hazardous driving conditions. Temperatures will continue to rise and freezing rain will change over to all rain which will continue through Saturday. Temperatures tomorrow will climb above the freezing level in some places while others will stay below. Again, driving conditions in one area may be completely different in another as well as the effects of elevation where even a hundred feet can mean the difference between icy and wet conditions. The only solution is to slow down and increase distances for braking and traffic following. Tomorrow nights lows will be in the upper 20s to around 30.  Rain will continue Saturday and temperatures will continue to rise getting close to the 50 degree mark in Bellingham.  Other areas will see the mid to upper 40s. HIgher elevations could see around three inches of rain while the lowlands of the county will  see one to one and one-half inches of rain.  A brief lull will occur on Sunday with showers still in the area.  The next weather system arrives Sunday night but is currently forecast to be less moist.

The Mt Baker Ski Resort reported no  new snow over the past 24 hours. This  morning Heather Meadow is showing a base of 856" while Pan Dome is at 99". 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 late Saturday which will continue into the first part of next week.  While flooding is not predicted, the National Weather Service outlook is that the possibility of river flooding will be with us for much of next week as several weather systems pass through the area.  Temperatures, snowmelt, and precipitation will determine how high the river will rise. Regardless, monitoring the NWS websites for flood watches and/or warnings should be one of the top priorities for the next week or so.  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 

Strong offshore flow and Fraser outflow will  gradually ease tonight and Friday. Winds will turn more southerly  on Friday as a warm front moves through. A series of vigorous  frontal systems will move through the area roughly every 24-36  hours Saturday through Tuesday.  Wind: TONIGHT E wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. A slight  chance of snow in the evening then snow after midnight.  FRI E wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. Snow and a  chance of light freezing rain in the morning then rain with light  freezing rain likely in the afternoon.  FRI NIGHT SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. Freezing  rain likely in the evening. Rain.  SAT SE wind 25 to 35 kt. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft.  SAT NIGHT SE wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less.  SUN SE wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft.

Note:  There are several periods where winds reach "Small Craft Advisory" or Gale Force levels over the next few days in addition to the current advisory.  Monitor marine weather for changing conditions.
Tide Data (Cherry Point)

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
December 24, 2022071710.72
December 24, 20221209
December 24, 202215549.22
December 24, 20222355

-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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