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King Tide mixed with Gale Warning winds raise coastal flooding concerns

Residents and motorists battle tidal surge flood waters in the 4700 block of Sucia Drive (January 7, 2022). Photo: Whatcom News

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Officials in the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management (DEM) told Whatcom News in an email they are not expecting significant impacts as a result of a forecast King Tide and overnight gale force winds.

A Gale Warning is in effect until 6am tomorrow, Sunday November 27th.  Gusty winds along the Whatcom County coastlines will be from the west beginning around midnight and are expected to remain westerly until midmorning on Sunday.

A King Tide is forecast to peak about 9am at a “relatively moderate” 10.5-feet.

Combining expected winds and the 1 to 3-foot waves expected around 9am puts the storm surge forecast at about 10.6-feet.

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While it is anticipated that the effects on most of coastal Whatcom County should be minor, should the overnight winds continue, it is possible that we may see some impacts along Whatcom County shores. The coastal areas of Whatcom County that could have the strongest King Tide effects include Sandy Point, Point Roberts, Drayton Harbor, the Lummi Peninsula and Lummi Island. Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management (November 26, 2022)

DEM noted that the new Birch Bay Drive pedestrian walkway berm north of Terrell Creek has substantially changed the shoreline and they do not anticipate any of the types of damage experienced in 2018 as the projected tide is well below the height of the berm.

Below are the NOAA King Tide impacts for areas to watch for minor coastal impacts in Whatcom County with the combined King Tide, storm surge, wind and waves

Provided by Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management (November 26, 2022)

DEM also noted they use the NOAA tide gauge at Cherry Point for official Whatcom County tide levels, but local tidal levels do vary both in height and timing, so Bellingham, Sandy Point, Birch Bay, Blaine and Point Roberts can all be expected to be slightly different.

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