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What to expect with snow in the Ferndale area weather forecast

Brown Road approaching Vista Drive after a short snow event (December 19, 2017). Photo: Whatcom News

In case you missed yesterday’s story, the prospect of snow has appeared in the Ferndale area weather forecast. Rain is currently expected to arrive Sunday morning and by the afternoon transition to snow.

National Weather Service Seattle office forecasters are placing a bit more confidence in their forecast this afternoon for a snow event in the lowlands of western Whatcom County and elsewhere beginning Sunday afternoon.

The low pressure system dropping over the border from Canada is now expected to pass further west than expected according to forecasters. As a result, more precipitation is expected and the cold temperatures needed for snow may be held off until Sunday afternoon. Rain is expected Sunday morning and it will likely transition to snow in the lowlands by the afternoon.

The cold air is expected to continue flowing into western Washington Sunday night continuing the potential for additional snow in the lowlands. Accumulations of less than 1-inch are expected according to the latest computer weather models.

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Cold air will push south across the rest of the area Sunday night with snow levels lowering to near sea level and a threat of lowland accumulations. As is often the case in lowland snow events for Western Washington, the precipitation will be decreasing and becoming hit and miss Sunday night as the air becomes cold enough for snow. Some areas might see snow accumulations. Others might get nothing.

The next potential threat of snow appears to be Thursday, February 7th since there appears to be little chance of precipitation Monday through Wednesday while the cold air will remain.

In response to the weather forecast, Ferndale School District issued a reminder today that weather can result in changes to school schedules. Choices available to district officials include:

  • Operating on a normal schedule with buses on snow routes
  • Operating on a two-hour delay
  • Operating on a two-hour delay with buses on snow routes
  • Canceling school for the day(s)

District officials say that, in the event of a delay or closure, a telephone call and email message will be sent to parents. Their goal is to begin getting those messages out by 6am. Because such communications are important, officials advise guardians, parents and students to be sure contact information is up-to-date.

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City of Ferndale staff said today they are also preparing for the prospect of snow. In addition to the 4 snow plows, the city has at its disposal 2 full-size sanders, 1 small sander and a skid steer with a plow.

City of Ferndale snow removal priority routes (2017). Source: City of Ferndale
City of Ferndale snow removal priority routes (2017). Source: City of Ferndale

According to the City website, there are 2 snow protocols. One is an immediate response which can happen at any time on any day. This is focused solely on the priority routes (see graphic). The other is a standard response which occurs during regular working hours. During these times, PW crews work to keep priority routes clear and then also clear other roads as time and resources allow.

On hills and at intersections, traction can easily become a safety issue under freezing conditions. The City’s sanders are equipped to deposit a coating of a salt and sand mix to improve traction.

When forecasts provide forewarning, it is not unusual to see public works vehicles applying de-icing solution on key streets in advance of snow and ice.

Other agencies, organizations and businesses that may close or delay their openings due to snow and/or freezing conditions that impact roads include:

  • Lummi Nation Schools
  • NW Indian College
  • Lummi Daycare
  • Lummi Indian Business Council
  • Lummi Clinic
  • Lummi Headstart
  • Early Learning
  • Ferndale Senior Activity Center
  • Ferndale Public Library
  • Boys & Girls Club Ferndale Clubhouse

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