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The original item was published from 12/23/2022 10:28:46 AM to 12/29/2022 12:00:03 AM.

News Flash

Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: December 23, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Friday, December 23, 2022 Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Active Incidents



-  North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter:


-  SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON for east winds 15-25 knots. This is for the Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.

.-  SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 4 AM PST SATURDAY for southeast winds 15 to 25 knots.  This is for the Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands 


-  WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS EVENING for heavy mixed precipitation, including freezing rain. Additional ice accumulations of around a tenth of inch possible.  This includes the following areas:   .San Juan County, including Stuart Island, Waldron Island, Orcas Island, San Juan Island, Lopez Island, Blakely Island, and Decatur  Island, Lowlands of western Whatcom County, including Point Roberts, Lummi Island, Bellingham, and Sumas and Lowlands of western Skagit County, including Cypress Island, Guemes Island, Anacortes, Mount Vernon, and La Conner.

-  Environment Canada has also issues a Winter Storm Warning for north of the border.

-  National Weather Service Hydrologic Outlook: THREAT OF URBAN AND RIVER RIVER FLOODING STARTING FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH EARLY NEXT WEEK ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON. An active weather pattern will bring a series of storm systems that will bring moderate to heavy precipitation and a rapid warm-up late in the week and especially over the weekend. While initial precipitation may be as snow or freezing rain, a shift to a much warmer air mass Friday night into Saturday will likely lead to rain falling on existing snow. This could lead to some urban flooding concerns as drainage systems may not be able to keep up with the increased runoff from the rain and the melting snow. Additionally, some rises on mainstem rivers may also result, but widespread river flooding is not expected through Saturday night. One notable exception would be possible minor flooding on the Skokomish in Mason County by the end of the week. 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. This could lead to additional river flooding, especially with snow levels likely remaining elevated with these warm and moist weather systems leading to progressively higher flows through at least the first part of next week. Confidence remains somewhat low in pinpointing any particular basins for early next week due to the complex evolution of the pattern and the uncertainty of the impact of snowmelt, combined with heavy rain and warming.

Inland Whatcom County Weather: 

Dynamic weather will continue to affect Whatcom County for the remainder of the day.  Freezing rain to the south of Whatcom County will continue to spread north. There are some places in the southern part of the county seeing a little freezing precipitation now, but the forecast continues to point toward freezing rain reaching the majority of the county in the next few hours.  Temperatures will continue to warm up but and freezing rain will  turn to rain; that too will work from south to north so northern parts of the county should expect to see freezing rain late into the afternoon.  The amount of freezing rain has also changed somewhat. There could be anywhere form 1/10 to 4/10" of ice accumulation.  This has the potential to create power outages caused by downed wires or tree limbs breaking and falling on lines.  As of this morning, most power outages are south of Snohomish County.  That could change. Driving to will become more hazardous as this plays out. Temperatures today are expected to gradually rise to 30 or a little higher by this evening. Rain will continue and snow levels will rise to 3000' or so. Tomorrow, the warm-up will continue with temperatures reaching into the 40s.  East winds in the 10-15 mph range will shift to a more southerly direction and increase to 20-30 mph with gusts reaching 35-40 mph. This will continue into Saturday, as will the rain.

The Mt Baker Ski Resort reported 5" of  snow over the past 24 hours. This  morning Heather Meadow is showing a base of 85" while Pan Dome is at 99".  See the Mt Baker Ski Report at: for chair information as there are several chairs open, some on storm hold, and some closed for the day.

Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams

The Nooksack River will see several fairly substantial changes over the next several days caused by the storm system moving into the area and the melting snow.  Several gauges have ice impacting the reading but visual observations are being made.  Nevertheless, by Tuesday morning, current projections by the Northwest River Forecast Center show the Ferndale Gauge just over 15.0'.  Minor flood stage is 18.0' so no flooding is expected.  However, there are several storm systems still moving towards Washington which could change the outlook.  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 

Winds will turn southerly today as offshore flow  winds down. Winds will approach gale-force over the coastal waters  and Northern Inland Waters Saturday ahead of the next frontal  system. Significant waves are possible into early next week with a series of strong frontal systems.   Wind: TODAY E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. A chance of  rain and a slight chance of freezing rain.  TONIGHT SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. Rain.  SAT SE wind 20 to 30 kt rising to 25 to 35 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 3 to 6 ft. Rain.  SAT NIGHT SE wind 10 to 20 kt becoming 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft.  SUN SE wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 1 to 4 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 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
December 25, 2022080110.83*
December 25, 20221308
December 25, 202216498.87
December 26, 20220043

-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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