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Sunrise as seen from near Ferndale High School (January 30, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

Wet, windy, warm weather forecast along with significant flooding

FERNDALE, Wash. — This morning’s brilliant sunrise may possibly be the last welcomed weather-related offering for the next few days.

Today’s weather forecast is for light rain and breezy wind with high temperatures in the mid-40s. Then a series of warmer and wetter systems are expected move through the area beginning this afternoon and continue into Saturday bringing heavy rain and strong winds.

National Weather Service forecasters issued a High Wind Watch this morning that will be in effect from 10am Friday through 4am Saturday. The alert warns of sustained south winds of 25 to 40mph with gusts up to 60mph. Power outages and property damage from fallen trees can be expected with winds this strong.

A system is expected to stall over western Washington tonight before moving northward Friday. This will bring a warm front with rain, heavy at times, according to forecasters. 2 to 3-inches of rain can be expected to fall in Puget Sound lowlands, including the Ferndale area, as a result. Temperatures are expected move up into the upper-40s and low-50s.

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Heavy local rain combined with the already saturated ground creates the potential for surface water and stream flooding resulting in water on roadways in areas that do not often see water over roadways. Drivers should be alert to the possibility of standing water on roads, especially near streams and the bottom of hills.

Locations of streams in the Ferndale area. Source: City of Ferndale GIS

Significant river flooding in the Ferndale area remains a concern. Expected heavy mountain rains are driving the river level forecast for the Nooksack River at Ferndale up to and above official minor flood stage for about 48 hours.

While road impacts can be expected beginning Friday evening, more significant property and road impacts are expected as the river is currently expected to crest Sunday morning at 20.8 feet after reaching the moderate flood stage range of 20.5 to 23 feet.

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Flooding into residential neighborhoods becomes a concern when the river reaches the 19-foot mark and even more so when it remains at high levels for an extended period of time.

Zoomed-in portion of aerial photo looking over VanderYacht Park and nearby residential neighborhoods during flooding event (January 8, 2009). WSDOT photo via Flickr
Zoomed-in portion of aerial photo looking over VanderYacht Park and nearby residential neighborhoods during flooding event with a 22.76-foot crest (January 8, 2009). WSDOT photo via Flickr

If the river achieves the current forecast crest level of 20.8 feet, it would be the highest the river has risen at Ferndale since the 22.8-foot crest in 2009 which was preceded by a 23.6-foot crest that occurred in 1990.

While the river level is expected to quickly recede below flood levels on Monday, water that spilled over the river banks is not expected to be quickly absorbed by the already saturated ground. As a result, road and property impacts can be expected to continue further.

Property owners near the river should continue to monitor the latest Nooksack River level forecast as it can change frequently and be prepared for potential hazards and property damage resulting from river water spilling outside the banks of the river and onto property.

Road closures are likely and drivers are advised to be alert for water and debris over low-lying roads near the river and streams and obey road closed signs. Drivers can monitor updated travel times and road closures on the MFN Traffic Page.

Temperatures are expected to drop to the mid-30s Saturday night and, although the chance of precipitation will drop from 80 to 40%, there will still be a chance of it falling as rain or snow. This potential will continue into Monday as temperatures are expected to remain in the 30s with a chance of precipitation.


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