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It’s snowing at the ski area and the Nooksack flood threat eases

Mount Baker and the Nooksack River seen from Nugents Corner.
Mount Baker and the Nooksack River seen from Nugents Corner. pdwyer@bellinghamherald.com

A lowland flood watch expired Wednesday and new snowfall replaced heavy rain in the mountains Thursday morning, allowing the Mt. Baker Ski Area to open after a two-day closure.

Some 8 inches of snow fell overnight at the ski area, which was reporting normal midweek operations at its White Salmon base.

Warm, wet and windy weather blew through Northwest Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, breaking a six-week deep-freeze. Rainfall totals for the two-day storm were about 3/4 of an inch at Bellingham International Airport, where official measurements are taken, with a weather station in Deming reporting a two-day total of 1 inch.

At Mount Baker weather stations, some 7 inches of rain was recorded through Wednesday night, said meteorologist Jay Albrecht at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“(But) it’s been all snow now since 10 last night,” Albrecht said.

Still, officials are keeping an eye on the Nooksack River, especially near Ferndale, where the gage height rose 9 feet to 14 feet in one day, but was still below its flood stage of 19 feet Thursday. Water discharge remained about 17,000 cubic feet per second.

Farther upriver at Glacier, the gage height was dropping Thursday from a peak of 7 feet about midnight Wednesday and discharge was falling from a peak of 2,000 cubic feet per second.

“We’re in the clear for now, but we were watching it pretty closely,” said Riley Sweeney, spokesman for the city of Ferndale.

An avalanche warning from the National Weather service was canceled for higher elevations of the North Cascades, and the Northwest Avalanche Center downgraded the backcountry risk to moderate above and below the treeline.

“We’re going back pretty close to normal (January) weather, more of a showery regime” for the next several days as a low-pressure system has parked itself offshore to the west, Albrecht said. There’s a chance of showers daily through Monday, with temperatures in the mid- to high 40s.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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