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The original item was published from 8/31/2023 7:47:28 AM to 9/3/2023 12:00:01 AM.


Sheriff - Emergency Management Daily Briefing

Posted on: August 31, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Thursday, August 31, 2023 Emergency Management Daily Briefing for Whatcom County

We should get some warmer drier days and then likely more showers for the holiday. Have a safe holiday weekend.

Active Incidents

The Sourdough Fire north of Diablo Lake started on Saturday, July 29. It is currently burning in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area within the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, in very steep terrain. Air quality in the area is very bad in places, see here for local info. If you choose to travel in the area, please do not stop on the highway to take pictures or look at the fire. Do not fly drones in the area, as this will ground the helicopter and air tankers working on the fire. More information can be found here.

Hwy 20 now open as of 0900 today, Wednesday. A pilot car will escort travelers along a 4-mile stretch of highway from Rainy Pass (milepost 158) to the Blue Lake trailhead parking lot (milepost 162) until further notice as crews continue working in the vicinity of the Blue Lake fire. Pilot car operations may be suspended at times; however, the road will remain open to through traffic.

This remains an active fire area and the road is subject to closing again with little notice based on fire behavior, fire mitigation strategies or weather. Travelers along SR 20 are advised they may encounter firefighting personnel and apparatus along the highway and are discouraged from stopping along this stretch of highway. Traffic control is in place for the safety of the traveling public and should be observed.    

Road closure information is posted in the WSDOT real-time travel center and @wsdot_north and @wsdot_east on X/Twitter and updates will be provided as available. Details about recreation in this area including trail, area and camp closures are available on theNorth Cascades National Park Service complex website and the U.S. Forest Service alerts website

All recreation remains CLOSED in this area. There may be large amounts of smoke from the fire, particularly in the afternoons as fire activity increases due to weather changes. Please do not call Dispatch to report it, fire crews are working on the fire. No flying of drones in the area due to aircraft working on the fire.

Lake Whatcom Wildland Fire is approximately 45 acres as of yesterday afternoon-A Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation in place for Blue Canyon Rd residents. Blue Canyon Rd is closed to non-fire or non-resident traffic. The South Lake Whatcom boat launch, Hertz Trail, and the south end of Lake Whatcom to boat traffic are closed. Helicopters are being used on the fire. No flying drones in the area, this is dangerous for aircraft. DNR currently has aircraft and ground crews working on the fire.

Advisories, Watches and Warnings

July 24 a drought emergency was declared by WA State Dept of Ecology for Whatcom County.

Whatcom County Fire Marshal has initiated a Stage 2 Burn Ban effective 1600 Wednesday, August 16. See here for more information.

A subject of note here is the Mt Baker Hwy closure which is affecting a large area of the county. Please visit the Whatcom County Public Works Road Closures and Restrictions page for more information.

Weather Around Whatcom County

Whatcom County Inland Weather

Cooler, showery conditions will continue Thursday but from there we'll transition back to drier, warmer conditions Friday into the weekend.

Any rain showers in the region will be tapering off by Thursday morning and we'll get a short dry break before more showers return mid morning and then end again around midday. Once the showers end the skies will start to clear out and we'll be dry for the rest of Thursday through Friday. Some pockets of fog or low clouds look possible going into Friday morning but once they clear out we'll be mostly clear with warmer temperatures on Friday.

Dry weather holds through the daylight hours Saturday before showers begin to return Saturday night/Sunday. From there we'll see a return to wetter weather going into early next week. Temperatures will be warmest on Saturday and then will start to cool off again Sunday into next week as the clouds and rainfall return.

Whatcom County Coastal Weather

For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County today the wind will come from the west as light wind, becoming up to 10 knots  in the afternoon. Wind waves 1 foot or less. Showers in the morning, then a chance of showers in the afternoon. Moving into the evening, winds will come from the northwest up to 10 knots. Wind waves 1 foot or less. A slight chance of showers in the evening. Tomorrow winds come from the northwest at 5-15 knots. Wind waves 2 feet or less. For a look at real-time coastal weather and tides you can link here to the Cherry Point NOAA Tide Station.

Air Quality

Visit the Whatcom County Health Department's Wildfire Smoke for up-to-date information and air quality.

Emergency Management Tips and Reminders

CERT Activities

CERT will be at Sudden Valley's 50th Anniversary tomorrow, Saturday, from 11am-6 pm. Come visit with Doug.

Summer Water Safety Tips

Washington waters are often cold enough to cause muscles to not work. Even when the outside temperatures are high, water temperatures can be cold enough to overwhelm even the strongest swimmer.

If you plan to be in or near water this summer, follow these recommendations:

Learn to swim, including water safety and survival skills — To enjoy the water safely, learn swim strokes, water safety, survival skills, and becoming comfortable in the water.

Wear a life jacket — Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when boating, tubing, rafting, swimming or other activities in or on lakes, rivers, salt water, or pools without a lifeguard. Life jacket information for children and teens.

Swim where there is a lifeguard — Swim in areas with lifeguards when possible. Wear a life jacket while swimming in unguarded waters or until the guards start their service.

Supervise children in or near water — Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Stay within touching distance of young children at all times.

Do not use alcohol or drugs during water activities — Never use alcohol or other impairing drugs during water and boating activities or while supervising children around the water. Alcohol affects balance, coordination, and judgement. Exposure to sun and heat worsen these effects.

Know what to do in an emergency — Learn first aid and CPR. Seconds count—the more quickly lifesaving CPR is started, the better the chances of recovery. Bring a cell phone or know where to find the nearest phone. Dial 911 in an emergency. Learn safe ways to rescue others without putting yourself in danger (reach for them, throw something to them, don’t go into the water after them). If you are in trouble: flip, float, relax (like a starfish).

The Emergency Management Daily Briefing is produced Monday - Friday unless an update is required for an incident or event over a weekend or during holidays.

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