Cold snap in store for Whatcom County; shelters open Monday night

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 2, 2013 

Whatcom County residents likely won't see their thermometers go above freezing for the next week as a cold snap hits the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Daytime highs in the low 30s are forecasted for the Bellingham area through Sunday, Dec. 8, with overnight lows in the low 20s, NWS meteorologist Josh Smith said.

"Basically, as far out as we forecast, it's all going to be cold," Smith said.

While most of the week is expected to be bitterly cold and dry, there is a small chance of snow for Friday, though Smith said the probability is low.

The first official snow of the season in Bellingham was recorded at the airport just after 5:40 a.m. Monday.

Snow fell at various times during the day throughout the county, with a heavy dose in the downtown area starting around 3:30 p.m. Most of it didn't stick, however.

The cold was good news for the Mt. Baker Ski Area, which expected to reopen Tuesday after closing Sunday and Monday because of warmer, wet weather. The ski area had been expected to reopen Wednesday, but a significant drop in the temperature and more than 11 inches of new snow by Monday morning at Heather Meadows meant that date could be pushed up.

The snowpack was recovering well after a warm, wet storm that hit over the weekend, according to the area's snow report. Crews spent Monday prepping the area, and chairs 3 through 8 were expected to be running Tuesday.

The icy forecast caused Interfaith Coalition to open its severe weather shelters starting Monday night. The shelters are open from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. with dinner and breakfast provided.

There are two shelter sites: the men's shelter, located at Faith Lutheran Church, 2750 McLeod Road, and the women's and children's shelter, at Garden Street United Methodist Church, 1326 N. Garden St. in Bellingham.

Salt on the Street provides transportation to the shelter sites from 5 to 8 p.m. with pick-ups at the Rainbow Center, 209 W. Holly St., and Church on the Street, 901 W. Holly St. Interfaith Coalition will be monitoring the weather to figure out how long the shelters will remain open.

This cold spell is similar to ones in recent years, though it might last longer.

From Jan. 11-14 of this year, temperatures dropped as low as 19 and went as high as 37, according to Bellingham Herald archives.

From Jan. 15-20 in 2012, Bellingham temperatures only reached a high of 35 and dropped to a low of 10.

In 2010, temperatures never reached above freezing from Nov. 21-25.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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