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River level forecast has Whatcom communities on alert

Zoomed-in portion of aerial photo looking over VanderYacht Park and nearby residential neighborhoods during flooding event when the river level reached 22.76 feet in Ferndale (January 8, 2009). WSDOT photo via Flickr

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Officials in easter Whatcom County communities issued alerts to their residents forewarning of flooding potential based on the most recent Nooksack River level forecast.

National Weather Service forecasters in the Seattle office say to expect rain through Monday as an atmospheric river impacts the area. Rivers will rise with flooding expected on some western Washington rivers, including the Nooksack River.

Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen issued a statement tonight, November 13th, saying flooding similar to the Super Bowl flood of 2020 is possible, referring to a flood event that left Sumas, Everson and Nooksack inundated by water and debris in late January and early February of 2020, causing millions in damage.

We are asking everyone to make the necessary preparations and elevate any belongings and remove items that were in the flood path last time this happened. The City will be supplying and filling sand bags behind city hall tomorrow which is Sunday from 1:00-3:00pm. We are asking for volunteers to help fill the sand bags and deliver them to residents as needed. Please contact myself on my cell at 360-594-1468 if you have any questions or need assistance with sand bag delivery or elevating items etc. Also, please contact me with the addresses of any elderly or vulnerable residents that might not get this information. We will do everything we can to help you during this process based on the amount of volunteers and resources we have available.

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Please contact and help anyone that you know could use it. I’m calling on all able bodied volunteers and residents to come together and serve our community once again. We will get through this by working together. I hope to see a lot of you tomorrow at 1:00pm behind Sumas City Hall on Cherry Street as we start filling sand bags.Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen (November 13, 20210)

Everson Mayor John Perry also issued a statement advising residents living in known flood areas/flood plains or low lying areas to be prepared to leave if threatened by flood waters.

We will be filling and handing out sandbags at the City Shop (605 Robinson St) starting at noon on Sunday. Volunteers are encouraged and welcome. For anyone with mobility issues, or need for additional assistance in preparation for the potential flooding, feel free to contact me at 360-815-5954. In the event of an emergency, contact 911.Everson Mayor John Perry (November 13, 20210)

Officials Whatcom County Emergency Management said today that Whatcom County Public Works River and Flood Division and Maintenance and Operations have started preparations by having sandbags filled, prepositioning sandbags in trouble spots and placing empty sandbags at fire stations.

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A joint planning meeting with Emergency Management and Public Works officials is planned for Sunday to update preparations and response requirements.

Forecasted flooding expected to start late Sunday has the potential to close Valley Highway (SR9) north of Acme according to the latest forecast. That closure could continue over days.

Cedarville area impacts could also begin Sunday evening and remain into Tuesday according to the forecast.

If the Cedarville levee is topped, as occurred during the 2020 flood event when the level reached 148.68 feet, water can flow downhill toward Sumas.

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  • Based on Cedarville gauge levels:
    • at 146.5 feet – the river will cause shallow flooding of low pasture lands along the river downstream through Lynden
    • at 147.3 feet – the river will cause widespread flooding of low farm lands along the river downstream through Lynden with swift water moving over several roads
    • at 148 feet – the river will cause widespread flooding downstream through Lynden…with swift waters covering some farm lands and roads. Erosion may affect some river banks

Hannegan Road, south of Lynden, is likely to be closed if water and debris cover low-lying sections.

Slater Road and Marine Drive in Ferndale are 2 other vulnerable low-lying roads that may be closed due to flooding. These closures, if they happen, may be extended across days.

  • Based on the Ferndale gauge levels:
    • at 16 feet – the river begins spilling over its banks into low pasture lands flooding some roadways that are not protected by levees including Marine Drive and Ferndale Road
    • at 17 feet – the Nooksack River will overtop levees along Bertrand Creek and near Marine Drive, causing shallow flooding of low pasture lands along the river and additional roadways within the floodplain including Slater Road
    • at 18 feet – the river begins overtopping its banks within the City of Ferndale flooding low-lying areas within the City and low pasture lands along the river from near Ferndale downstream to the mouth
    • at 20 feet – the river will flood additional areas within the City of Ferndale including low-lying residential areas and roads including Washington Street, Portal Way and Second Avenue
    • at 20.5 feet – the Nooksack River will overflow levees and banks along the east bank of the river from Hovander Park downstream to Marietta, causing widespread flooding from near Ferndale downstream to the mouth…with swift waters in residential areas and over farm lands and roads…erosion may damage some river banks

Readers are encouraged to monitor the latest Nooksack River level forecasts.

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