A storm front that coincided with high tide damaged Birch Bay homes and a business Monday, Dec. 17, according to Whatcom Unified Emergency Management.
Waves crashed through the large windows at Via Birch Bay Café and Bistro, inundating the restaurant with water and debris, said Marcus Deyerin, a member of the Whatcom Unified incident management team. The café is on the water side of Birch Bay Drive and appeared to have suffered the worst damage in the area.
The higher-than-normal surge was caused by a strong low-pressure system that coincided with high tide. With lower air pressure, less weight presses down on the surface of the water, allowing that high tide to rise even higher, said Steve Reedy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. As the system moved east, those high waters receded.
The next front to hit Whatcom County could bring some snow to the lowlands, but the frostiest weather will strike east and south of Whatcom County, National Weather Service meteorologist Art Gaebel said. A mixture of rain and snow is expected through Wednesday morning, with temperatures in the low 30s at night and high 30s in the day. The foothills could get some snow that sticks, but little or no accumulation is expected in lower elevations.
Monday's flooding also affected 12 to 15 homes and properties near Terrell Creek, as the water rose beyond the creek banks. In some cases, the water only got as far as the yard, but in others it flooded garages and homes, said Kent Catlin, deputy director of emergency management for the Sheriff's Office Division of Emergency Management.
Flooding closed about 4 miles of Birch Bay Drive from Shintaffer Road to Birch Bay State Park. The road is open only to emergency vehicles until the water recedes and crews can look at the road for damage such as sink holes or erosion.
"We really want to emphasize to not drive through standing water," Deyerin said. "Even if the water isn't flowing, it could be concealing something."
An emergency shelter was opened at the Birch Bay Fire Station, 4581 Birch Bay-Lynden Road, for residents displaced by flood damage. No one had shown up to the shelter by Monday afternoon, but North Whatcom Fire and Rescue was making it available for those who need it.
Bellingham Public Works reported no major flooding problems, though water covered a section of Boulevard Park much of the day before receding.
To report damage to your home from winds or flooding, call 360-676-6681. To report water or debris over a public road, call Whatcom County Public Works at 360-676-6759.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 756-2803.