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Atmospheric river expected to drive Nooksack River level up in coming days

River floodwater is seen covering Slater Road east of the Nooksack River bridge while the river level was at 16.8 feet (February 16, 2017). Photo: Whatcom News
River floodwater is seen covering Slater Road east of the Nooksack River bridge while the river level was at 16.8 feet (February 16, 2017). Photo: Whatcom News

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Forecasters with the National Weather Service Seattle office are keeping a close eye on western Washington rivers over the coming days, including the Nooksack River.

According to a statement issued this morning, October 26th, “An atmospheric river is forecast to impact western Washington Wednesday and Thursday with high snow levels and rain, heavy at times in the mountains. Areas rivers are expected to respond with sharp rises. Minor river flooding is possible for a few rivers by Thursday night or Friday.”

As of October 26th, hydrological forecasts at 3 gauges on the Nooksack River show concern for the potential for flooding. Those forecasts are as indicated on the following graphics.

By definition, the Action Level range is “the stage which, when reached by a rising stream, represents the level where the NWS or a partner/user needs to take some type of mitigation action in preparation for possible significant hydrologic activity. The type of action taken varies for each gage location. Gage data should be closely monitored by any affected people if the stage is above action stage.”

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But, as in the case of the Nooksack River gauge at Ferndale, the Action Level is also the point when debris and water over roadways begins occurring. Closures of low-lying roads near the river, including Slater Road, become a possibility. Such impacts are also dependent on the ability of surrounding ground to absorb river water that may overflow the river banks. Lowland soils are becoming saturated due to recent heavy rains, reducing their ability to absorb river water overflow.

Nooksack River level gauge locations for Ferndale, North Cedarville and Saxon Road bridge

Drivers and property owners near the river are advised to continue monitoring up-to-date Nooksack River level forecasts.

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