First big storm of 2014 to dump snow on Baker, heavy rain across Whatcom

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 10, 2014 

Mt. Baker Ski Area opening day

Scenes from opening day at Mt. Baker Ski Area, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.

MATT MCDONALD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BELLINGHAM - Skiers and snowboarders should be stoked for this weekend: Mount Baker's expected to get about three feet of fresh powder.

Meanwhile, the rest of Whatcom County will be gearing up, too - for the first big wind and rain storm of the year.

Two cold fronts will sweep through Western Washington by Sunday, said Doug McDonnal, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Seattle. The blustery weather we've had a taste of over the past 36 hours is expected to get turned up a notch, making showers and overcast skies the daily norm.

The first wave of cool air, on Friday, should carry plenty of rain, wind gusts of 30-plus mph, minor flooding and around one foot of new snow on Baker, according to the NWS.

A strong warm front will follow, McDonnal said, but only for a matter of hours. By Saturday, the rain and wind are expected to pick up. The NWS forecast gives a 100 percent guarantee of precipitation in Bellingham, up to a few inches.

"That cold front and warm front one after the other, that's a pretty big storm," McDonnal said.

Expect a torrent of rainfall, thunder and wind - meaning trees swaying, branches snapping, minor flooding, local power outages, and a deeper understanding of how many different shades of gray can coexist in one sky.

Mount Baker, the world record holder for most annual snowfall, could live up to its reputation by getting the lion's share of the snow this weekend in the Cascades, according to the NWS.

By Sunday afternoon, skiers can look forward to a couple more feet at the ski area - technically on Mount Shuksan - while the snow level sinks below 3,000 feet overnight.

Thermometers should stay above 40 degrees this weekend for the rest of the county, however, so no snow is forecast for the lowlands.

Flooding of the Nooksack River looks very unlikely, McDonnal said.

It's nothing too out of the ordinary if you've weathered a winter in the Bellingham area. The next time the National Weather Service expects a "partly sunny" forecast in Bellingham is Thursday, Jan. 16, and even that's a little far off to say for sure.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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