-Washington State Department of Transportation North Central Region – 2830 Euclid Ave. Wenatchee, WA 98801– 509-667-3000
North Cascades Highway to remain closed for winter: Nov. 8, 2022 - WINTHROP – With nearly 30 inches of snowfall over the weekend, SR 20 North Cascades Highway will remain closed for the winter between Ross Lake Dam trailhead (milepost 134) and Early Winters gate (milepost 178). The route was closed between milepost 134 and 171 for potential avalanche danger on Thursday, Nov. 3. Throughout the weekend, the North Cascades and the area surrounding the eastern slopes were repeatedly hit with snow and rain. Though the immediate avalanche danger is now low, conditions are likely to change. Maintaining the closure now will allow crews to focus time and resources on the communities east of the mountain passes that have received up to 2 feet of snow in places.
ADVISORIES, WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
- GALE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS EVENING for northeast winds 25 to 35 kt. This is for the northern Inland Waters Including The San Juan Islands.
- WIND ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS EVENING for northeast winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph expected. This is for San Juan County and Western Whatcom County.
- Environment Canada has issued a "Gale Warning" for The Strait of Georgia- South of Nanaimo: Wind northwest 15 to 25 knots except northeast 10 to 20 near the mainland coast. Wind becoming northeast 10 to 15 this morning except northeasterly outflow 20 near the mouth of Howe Sound. Wind becoming northeast 5 to 15 near noon then becoming light this afternoon. Wind increasing to east 5 to 15 this evening except east 20 south of Tsawwassen. Wind becoming southeast 10 to 20 overnight then becoming southeast 20 near noon Tuesday. Wind increasing to southeast 25 to 35 Tuesday evening.
Inland Whatcom County Weather
Winter is starting a little early as we are going to see colder temperatures, east/northeast wind, and some snow (which could be heavy from Maple Falls to the ski area. Starting with today, we're going to have mostly sunny skies around the county. Temperatures are going to struggle to get into the 30s in the lowlands. With the north/northeast winds the wind chill numbers will e well below freezing. Bellingham could see gusts in the low 20 mph range with Pt Roberts and Sumas seeing higher gusts. Maple Falls and Newhalem will be sheltered somewhat from the wind so not looking for anything drastic there. Lows tonight will be in the low 20s for most locations with colder temperature readings in Maple Falls and Newhalem. Tomorrow, we're going to see increasing clouds with the chance of snow increasing as the day goes on. Temperatures will again be in the 30s in the lower parts of the county and lower as one moves up in elevation. Wind tomorrow night coming out of the Fraser Valley and along the front range will blow hard enough to cause some drifting; Sumas could see gusts near 32mph. In the lower areas of Whatcom County we could see 1-2" of snow. Moving higher in elevation towards Maple Falls, the numbers increase to 4-8" and at the ski resort elevation level 7-11". Winter driving condtions are upon us.
Nooksack River, Creeks and Small Streams
We are not seeing anything on the horizon that is cause for concern at this time concerning river flooding. Snow, instead of rain in the higher elevations means less water draining into the rivers at this time. 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
Offshore looks to increase into Monday with Fraser River outflow winds. Another strong weather system will bring increasing winds late Tuesday and Wednesday with another round of headlines with widespread small craft advisories and gales. Wind: TODAY NE wind 25 to 35 kt. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft. A chance of showers in the morning then a slight chance of snow showers in the afternoon. TONIGHT NE wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 15 to 25 kt after midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. A slight chance of snow showers in the evening. TUE E wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. A chance of snow showers in the afternoon. TUE NIGHT SE wind 30 to 40 kt. Wind waves 5 to 7 ft. WED SE wind 25 to 35 kt becoming S 15 to 25 kt in the afternoon. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft subsiding to 2 to 4 ft in the afternoon.
Several periods of either Gale Force Wind or Small Craft Advisory 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.