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High winds during King Tides could lead to widespread outages & coastal flooding

A damaged tree on Portal Way after a windstorm with 70mph gusts (February 10, 2019). Photo: My Ferndale News

FERNDALE, Wash. — National Weather Service Seattle office forecasters upgraded yesterday’s High Wind Watch to a High Wind Warning this morning as confidence increased in the forecast for damaging winds Tuesday.

Sustained southerly winds of 30 to 40mph with gusts to 60mph are expected tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17th, with the strongest winds expected near shorelines, according to today’s announcement. Timing has been updated to between 10am and 6pm.

Forecasters say that, with winds this strong, widespread power outages are expected.

King Tides are expected to be occurring at the same time the winds hit the area. King Tides are the highest tides and occur when the moon and sun align, resulting in an increase in the gravitational pull exerted on the Earth’s oceans. They are expected to occur between today, November 16th, and November 20th.

By themselves, King Tides pose minimal risk but combined with high winds and/or waves, they can result in coastal flooding. Ferndale area communities most at risk of such incidents include the Lummi Peninsula, Lummi Island and Sandy Point as well as Birch Bay, Blaine and Point Roberts further to the north.

Whatcom County Emergency Management Deputy Director John Gargett said in an email this morning, “The high tides, including storm surge are projected to be 10.97’ at 0800.  The National Weather Service currently has high tides hovering around high astronomical tide and current forecast show highest winds occurring near or just after that. This combination of wind and tides could result in minor coastal flooding.” Gargett added “Whatcom County uses the NOAA tide gauge at Cherry Point for the official Whatcom County tide levels, but local tidal levels do vary both in height and timing [at different locations along Whatcom County shores].”

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