A blast of dry Canada air will keep Whatcom County mostly frozen for the next five days.
Temperatures at night are forecast to drop into the teens. Some daytime and nighttime temperature records could fall.
The coldest air is expected Wednesday, Feb. 5, and Thursday, Feb. 6. The National Weather Service predicted a high of 31 degrees for Wednesday that would break the record-low high temperature of 33 on Feb. 5, 1957.
Thursday's high is expected to be 33, which would beat the record of 36, reached most recently in 1973.
An overnight low of 14 degrees is forecast for Thursday morning, which would break the record-low low temperature for Feb. 6: 20 degrees in 1989.
Fraser Valley winds will persist through Wednesday night, with sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph through Tuesday night. Winds will taper a little after that, but not enough to make Whatcom residents feel warmer, Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Michalski said.
"It'll take a little bit of a bite out of the air, but it's still going to be cold," Michalski said.
Wind chills at night could fall below zero.
This week could be as cold as an 11-day stretch in early December when overnight temperatures were below freezing in Bellingham. Low temperatures hit 12 degrees on Dec. 7 and 8, during the last invasion of Canada air from the Fraser Valley.
The next storm isn't expected until late Saturday, and it could start as snow before switching to rain by Sunday morning, Michalski said. The prospects for weekend snow will become clearer as the week progresses.
The unusually dry winter so far has weather scientists and policymakers thinking about drought. But it's too early to make that call, said Brent Bower, senior hydrologist for the Weather Service.
"The snowpack is very bad, but it's too early to know for sure," Bower said. He said water supply forecasts are typically based on the snow levels on April 1.
"It's awfully hard to stay in a dry pattern for an entire wet season," Bower said. "It could easily turn around."
A drought in Whatcom County could lead to limits on water use for Bellingham residents, beginning with voluntary restrictions. Residential well users could have problems drawing from wells if dry conditions persist.
The water supply in Bellingham and the rural areas is not solely dependent on snowpack. Drought conditions could be relieved by above-average rainfall in the spring and summer.
COLD-WEATHER SHELTERS OPEN
Interfaith Coalition's severe-weather shelters for homeless people are open nightly through at least Tuesday, Feb. 4.
-- Shelters are open from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Dinner and breakfast provided.
-- Two locations: men's shelter at Faith Lutheran Church, 2750 McLeod Road; women and children's shelter at Garden Street United Methodist Church, 1326 N. Garden St.
-- Transportation provided with pick-ups at the Rainbow Center, 209 W. Holly St., and Church on the Street, 901 W. Holly.
-- Lighthouse Mission's drop-in center, 1013 W. Holly, opens at 8 a.m. when the severe-weather shelter is open.
-- After Tuesday night, check if the shelters are open by calling 360-788-7983.