Minor flooding may occur as Whatcom County thaws out

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 25, 2014 

Predictions of more snow have given way to concerns about flooded streets in Bellingham on Tuesday, Feb. 25, while most Whatcom County school kids enjoyed another day out of class — likely their last one this week.

The National Weather Service forecasted a daytime high in the mid-40s, which should go a long way to melting the piles of snow and ice that made a mess of roadways and canceled school again in every public school district expect Bellingham, which started classes two hours late Tuesday.

School officials in Whatcom County are keeping one eye on the weather and another on roads, but expect students back in class Wednesday.

"We hope to be back in school tomorrow," said Ferndale School District Superintendent Linda Quinn in an email. "But we’ll keep monitoring conditions to make sure they are safe."

Ferndale officials decided as of Tuesday afternoon to change the schedule for Wednesday classes. It had been scheduled as an early release day, but for student safety classes are now set to start two hours later than the usual morning start time Wednesday. Schools will release at their normal times, not the early times. Officials, however, cautioned that this could change if conditions do not improve enough for safe travel and classes still could be canceled.

Meridian Superintendent Tom Churchill said many of the side roads in his central county district finally have been plowed, but he will check conditions this evening before making a decision about Wednesday.

Most major roads are clear, but the warming temperatures bring the risk of plugged storm drains and flooding on city streets from melting snow and ice.

"It could be almost any intersection," said Scott Brown-Davis, a Bellingham city storm water maintenance supervisor. "All over town you could have some isolated flooding."

City crews worked overnight clearing storm drains as needed.

Whatcom County bore the brunt of the weekend snow. Depths reported Sunday evening ranged from 6½ inches in Fairhaven to 8 inches in Sudden Valley, 11 inches near Ferndale, 13 inches near Sumas and 15 inches of new snow — 18 inches total — in Maple Falls.

The last significant winter storm, in January 2012, dropped 18 inches of snow on south Lake Whatcom, lasted for most of a week and closed most public schools in the county for four days.

The Weather Service on Saturday, Feb. 22, called for 4 to 10 inches of snow in the Bellingham area by Sunday night. Forecasters missed their mark in outlying areas.

Then again, the Weather Service saw snow on the horizon as early as Thursday, Feb. 20.

"The (computer forecast) models were showing this can happen, but they were differing on the strength and timing. That’s what makes it difficult" to predict the amount and extent of the snow, meteorologist Johnny Burg said.

Wednesday’s forecast calls for partly sunny skies with highs in the upper 40s to mid 50s.

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