FERNDALE, Wash. — National Weather Service forecasters say today, January 28th, they are seeing a possible atmospheric river scenario setting up to arrive in western Washington bringing heavy rains which could drive up river levels significantly by the weekend.
Forecasters describe “a possible atmospheric river scenario” pointed toward the Pacific Northwest. There is some uncertainty as to the exact placement with this system, forecasters say, but models show the heaviest amounts of rainfall occurring in northern western Washington. Models also expect heavy amounts of rainfall in both the mountains and the lowlands. Heavy mountain rain combined with snow levels of 6000 to 7000 feet Friday and Saturday will creating potential for river flooding into the weekend.
The current Nooksack River level forecast at Ferndale warns of the river cresting beyond the 20-foot mark, within the official “Moderate Flood Stage” range by early Sunday. For perspective, the last flood event that resulted in the closure of Slater Road and Marine Drive crested below the 17-foot mark. The river crested just past the 19-foot mark on November 24th which also resulted in closures of Tennant Lake, Hovander Homestead Park, WDFW boat launch and the parking lot at VanderYacht Park.
When the river nears the 20-foot mark there is potential for impacts in some low-lying residential areas and roads near the river – namely along Washington Street, Portal Way and 2nd Avenue near VanderYacht Park.
Heavy rain is forecast locally as well beginning Friday and into Saturday with hourly totals ranging as high as a half-inch. Given the already saturated ground, surface water flooding is a possibility on property and roads near streams.
In addition to all the water in the forecast, computer forecast models are also foretelling of the potential for high winds Friday evening. Current forecasts warn of wind gusts between 40 and 50mph.
MFN will continue monitoring forecast sources and will be updating periodically as they are expected to change.