WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — An over 10°F difference between the northern and southern lowlands of Whatcom County Saturday morning, December 24th, made for widely varying conditions as of 8am.
Well-traveled roads around the Bellingham area were reportedly bare and wet while temperatures were reported in the low to mid 40s. Falling ice and snow from trees and roofs create hazards to people and property.
Conditions were different in the northern areas of the county where temperatures were reported in the low to mid 30s. Vehicles parked outdoors were reportedly glazed in a coating of up to a quarter inch of ice while warming temperatures were just beginning the melting process.
Forecasters with the Seattle office of the National Weather Service have multiple active alerts in place for Whatcom County. They include 2 winter weather advisories, 1 for the lowlands due to expected additional ice accumulations of around a tenth of an inch by noon, and 1 for the upper elevations due to additional snow accumulations of up to 6 inches in the mountains and ice accumulations of a light
glaze in the valleys near the Cascades by 10am.
A wind advisory is also in place due to expected sustained southerly winds of 20 to 35mph with gusts up to 50mph. Winds are expected to peak before noon and gradually decrease during the afternoon.
While the warming winds can be expected to increase the rate of snow and ice melting, they also have the potential to cause ice-ladened branches and trees to fall.
Over 3,000 Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customer addresses were reportedly without power overnight, some into the morning. As of 8:20am, that number had grown to over 4,000. PSE reported “The weight of the ice and snow caused trees and branches to snap and fall into power lines and has damaged electrical equipment. High winds could worsen this situation.
The Mt Baker Ski Resort announced Friday that the ski area would be temporarily closed today and tomorrow “due to this unusual mix of ice, wind and rain in the forecast” and “so much uncertainty around how this weather will affect road conditions.”
Washington State Department of Transportation announced that chains were required on the Mount Baker Highway (SR542).
About 6:30am, officials with the Bellingham International Airport reported, “Ice is still present on a large majority of the airport. Crews are currently working to improve conditions. The runway will open as soon as able. With temps rising, normal operations are anticipated later today.” As this story was being written, it was announced the runway had been reopened (~9am).
A flood watch that includes the Whatcom County area warns that excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations including poor drainage and urban areas.
The current Nooksack River river level forecasts for key locations indicate potential for the river to reach minor flood stage levels.
The Whatcom County Division of Emergency Management said yesterday evening via email, “Determining what the final river height will be is elusive as it will depend on actual temperatures, rainfall, and the rate of snowmelt. These conditions can change rapidly which will impact response times.”
Whatcom News readers are encouraged to stay up to date with the current weather forecast for their specific locations via the Whatcom News Weather page.
Readers are encouraged to stay up to date on local driving conditions via the Whatcom News Traffic page.
River level forecasts can change frequently so drivers and property owners are advised to monitor the Nooksack River level forecast.