- North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter:
ADVISORIES, WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
- GALE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THIS MORNING for south to southeast winds 25 to 35 knots. This is for the Northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.
- WIND ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THIS MORNING for south to southeast winds 20 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. This is for San Juan County, Western Whatcom County, Western Skagit County and Admiralty Inlet Area.
- WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST THIS MORNING ABOVE 1500 FEET for snow above 1500 feet. Additional snow accumulations of up to 5 inches. This is for the the Cascade mountains and valleys of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, including Maple Falls, the Mount Baker Ski Area, Newhalem, Lyman, and Concrete, Cascade mountains and valleys of Snohomish and King Counties, including Darrington, Index, Skykomish, Stevens Pass, and Snoqualmie Pass and Cascade mountains and valleys of Pierce and Lewis Counties, including the Crystal Mountain Ski Area, Paradise on Mount Rainier, Ashford, Randle, and Packwood.
Inland Whatcom County Weather:
A little bit of a mixed bag of weather around the county today and tonight. Temperatures will be in the low to mid 40s across most of the county although Newhalem will top out just above the freezing mark. Mostly rain will fall in the lower areas of the county, but one can't rule out a rain/snow mixture from time to time. The foothills are likely to see rain/snow mixtures though temperatures should be warm enough to keep any accumulations from developing. Newhalem will see rain/snow mixtures but there is the chance for one to three inches of slush/snow to accumulate. Winds will gust to around 20 mph or a little higher but the wind advisory will be ending at 10:00am. Pt Roberts will continue to see southerly winds into this evening and then switching to east/northeast sometime tomorrow with gusts to 37 mph or so tomorrow night. Overnight lows will be around the freezing level or below in the foothills Newhalem will see lows n the upper 20s. Newhalem is likely to see some heavy snow overnight as well with three to seven inches forecast. Tomorrow will be almost identical today with chances for rain/snow in places and temperatures reaching to the low 40s in the lower areas of the county and cooler with the higher elevations. The winds will be variable depending on where you're located but no location is showing greater than 20 mph winds gusts with the exception of Pt Roberts for tomorrow night, especially. The extended forecast call for some sun on Sunday and then a slight chance for rain/snow going into next week.
Mt Baker Ski Resort: Snow is in the forecast for the next several days with today's dump anticipated to be in the eight to twelve inch ranges followed by several 12-hour periods of two to four or one to three inch additional snow sessions. In the last 24 hours, the ski resort has reported an additional 10" of new snow. Things keep looking better and better for skiers. A number of chairs lifts are open. See the Mt Baker Ski Report at: https://www.mtbaker.us/snow-report/
Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams
No change here. The weather system impacting our area over the next couple of days will do little to change the river level. Snow, instead of rain in the higher elevations means less water draining into the rivers at this time and the water that does drain into the system can easily be handled by current river channel. 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
Breezy conditions will continue over the waters through this morning as a strong cold front sweeps through. A second frontal system will move through the area Friday night and Saturday, likely bringing gale force winds to some area waters. Weak high pressure will produce quieter conditions early next week. Wind: S wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. A slight chance of rain in the morning then a chance of rain in the afternoon. TONIGHT SW wind 5 to 15 kt becoming S 10 to 20 kt after midnight. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. A chance of rain in the evening then rain likely after midnight. FRI SE wind 10 to 20 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. A chance of rain. FRI NIGHT E wind 15 to 25 kt rising to 20 to 30 kt after midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. SAT E wind 25 to 35 kt becoming SE 20 to 30 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft. Aside from the Small Craft Advisory currently in effect, several periods of Small Craft Advisory and even Gale Force level winds are forecast over the next several days. Monitor marine weather to ensure you have the most up to date information.
Tide Data (Cherry Point)
*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.