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.
The U.S. and Canada have extended an order closing their shared border to nonessential traffic until at least January 21, 2021. This includes both vehicular and boating between the countries.
The “Proclamation of Emergency” signed by the Whatcom County Executive concerning COVID-19 remains in effect. Information about Whatcom County’s response to COVID-19 is available at the Joint Information Center’s COVID-19 website.
Advisories, Watches and Warnings
A “Winter Storm Warning” is in effect until 10:00pm this evening above 4000 feet. Additional snow accumulations of 12-18 inches along with gusty winds up to 45 mph are possible.
A “Small Craft Advisory” is in effect until 6:00pm tonight at which time a “Gale Warning” will be in effect which will go from 6:00pm this evening until 4:00 am tomorrow morning. Environment Canada has issued a Gale Warning for northwest winds 25-35 knots early this afternoon.
The National Weather Service has issued a “Special Weather Statement” that periods of moderate to heavy rainfall through Monday will lead to an increased threat of landslides in western Washington.
Whatcom County Inland Weather
Temperatures have not warmed up to those predicted and, as a result, areas around the county are seeing some snow. While the main snow event is occurring in the higher elevations, communities from Sumas to Deming to Bellingham and north of this line are seeing periods of snow. Abbotsford has issued a snow warning for 5cm of wet snow for today with the chance for a few centimeters more tonight. While most of the snow is melting on road surfaces where there is traffic, temperatures will begin dropping and accumulations of slush on roads may take place. The good news is that precipitation will end later tonight. High temperatures are stuck in the low to mid 30s and will likely start dropping shortly. Therefore, slush on the roads will stick around a little longer. There could be some northerly winds with gusts to around 25 mph. For tomorrow and Wednesday, we’ll have partly cloudy skies with lighter winds. Temperatures are once again predicted to reach the low 40s with evening lows around 30 degrees with some upper 20s in the county. Frost or even some ice on the roads is possible where water is standing.
With regards to the Nooksack River and small streams, we’ve seen them get about as high as they will from these past few storms. We’ll see one more spike over the next 24-36 hours as the runoff from this storm enters the drainage system and then the river will level off. Remember, do not drive through water flowing over roads; water can move vehicles as large as SUVs.
For the Strait and Inland Coastal Waters off Whatcom County today wind direction will switch from the northeast to the northwest and increase from 20-30 knots to 25-35 knots tonight. Wind waves will increase from 3-5 feet to 4-6 feet. Tomorrow will see winds drop from 15-25 in the morning to 5-15 knots in the afternoon.
Everyone in Washington State is directed to wear a face covering while at any indoor public space and any outdoor public space where you may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live with you. You can find more info about face coverings and other protective actions here and here.
A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is "pulled" back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Moon is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country.
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 10.1 at Cherry Point (Whatcom Counties official tide station). Over the next couple months, we will have King Tides on the following days:
December 30, 2020
December 31, 2020
January 01, 2021
January 02, 2021
January 03, 2021
January 04 & 05, 2021
0951 / 1021
January 12, 2021
January 13 & 14, 2021
0645 / 0722
January 15, 2020
January 16, 2021
January 29-February 01, 2021
0706 / 0733 / 0800 / 0827
For those who are tide watchers, these are pretty impressive tides but 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.
This briefing line is not updated on weekends unless an incident occurs.