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Forecasters: Atmospheric river to bring heavy rain & flooding concerns

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

FERNDALE, Wash. — Forecasters in the Seattle office of the National Weather Service say an atmospheric river reaching across the Pacific Ocean will reach western Washington Wednesday, December 18th, bringing an increase in rain. Heavy rains in the Cascades are expected to result in lowland flooding near rivers, including the Nooksack River at Ferndale.

The system is expected to bring rain to the Ferndale area through Saturday with the heaviest rains Thursday night and Friday morning. A total rainfall amount of 1.5 to 2-inches is expected between now and Sunday, December 22nd. Snow is expected in the mountains and in eastern Washington regions.

Temperatures are expected to remain in the low- to mid-40s through the weekend.

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Gusty southeasterly winds with gusts up to around 35mph are forecast for Wednesday evening and into Thursday morning and again Thursday evening into Friday morning.

Heavier rainfall in the Cascades is expected to significantly raise the Nooksack River level at Ferndale. The current river level forecast as of 7am this morning shows the river level passing the 15-foot mark in the late afternoon or early evening on Friday and cresting at 18.25 feet around 7am on Saturday.

Drivers may be impacted during the Friday evening commute and road closures due to river flooding can be expected to begin occurring late Friday and continue through the week. Road closures are likely to begin Friday and continue through the weekend.

The following roads can be expected to have water over the roadway and face possible closures once the river level passes 15-feet in Ferndale:

  • Ferndale Road north of Marine Drive and also north of Slater Road
  • The corner of Barrett and Paradise Roads
  • The WDFW parking lot on Marine Drive
  • The corner of Marine Drive south of Country Lane

At river levels closer to 16-feet, water over the roadway on Marine Drive and Ferndale Road can be expected to lead to closing those roads. Levels near and past the 17-foot mark often result in water over Slater Road and subsequent road closure.

River level forecasts change often and should be monitored frequently.

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