Strong winds likely, snow possible for Whatcom County over weekend

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 28, 2014 

Strong winds are expected to batter Whatcom County through Saturday afternoon, March 1, and though snow is in the forecast, it's still unclear how much might fall.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory calling for 20 to 35 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph through 4 p.m. Saturday.

Winds that strong can snap branches, topple small trees and cause local power outages. The wind is expected to die down to 15 to 30 mph Saturday night and 15 to 25 mph Sunday.

Meteorologists are less certain, though, about the snow that's in the forecast over the weekend. The snow level Saturday is forecasted to be around 500 feet, dropping to 200 feet overnight as the lows dip to the mid-20s. The snow level Sunday morning will start out at 300 feet and increase to 1000 feet as the temperatures warm up in the afternoon.

On Sunday night, the low will hover around freezing, which means any moisture on the road could turn to ice.

Whether Whatcom County gets snow - and how much - will depend on whether the cold air coming down from Canada meets precipitation coming up from the south.

"I think the main question is, 'How far up north will the precipitation that's coming from the south make it?'" meteorologist Johnny Burg said. "That's what's throwing the big uncertainty into the forecast."

Burg advised people to keep an eye on the forecast for any changes.

In anticipation of cold temperatures over the weekend, Interfaith Coalition announced that it will open its severe weather shelters Saturday night and Sunday night. The shelters are open from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., with dinner and breakfast served. The men's shelter is located at Faith Lutheran Church on the corner of McLeod Road and Northwest Avenue. The women's and children's shelter is located at Garden Street United Methodist Church on the corner of Garden and Magnolia streets. Salt on the Street provides transportation 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.

The forecast calls for a warm-up starting Monday, with daytime highs in the mid- to upper 40s Monday and Tuesday.

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

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