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Winds, heavy rain, flooding expected in Whatcom over next few days

Bellingham resident Paula Perfilio walks across Holly street  shielding the rain with an umbrella Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in downtown Bellingham.
Bellingham resident Paula Perfilio walks across Holly street shielding the rain with an umbrella Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in downtown Bellingham. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Back-to-back storms will bring strong winds, heavy rain and possible river and coastal flooding over the next few days.

A wind advisory that started Monday afternoon, Dec. 8, calls for southeast winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts as strong as 55 mph across western Whatcom County. Winds were expected to increase overnight and probably be strongest Tuesday morning before tapering off in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Only hours later, a high wind watch goes into effect. The NWS is expecting a second storm system to move in Tuesday evening, bringing with it even stronger southeast winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts as strong as 65 mph.

Winds of this strength usually cause scattered power outages across the county.

On Tuesday morning, low-lying coastal areas could get some flooding as high tide and the storm surge combine, according to the NWS. High tide at Cherry Point is at 8:06 a.m. Tuesday.

In the mountains, the first storm will dump 5 to 9 inches of rain in the North Cascades through Wednesday, with south-facing slopes getting the heaviest amounts.

That much rain could cause moderate flooding on the Nooksack River on Wednesday night or Thursday. Those who live in flood-prone areas are advised to keep an eye on river levels.

In addition to the flooding, the heavy rainfall is likely to saturate soil and cause some landslides, according to the NWS.

During both storms, temperatures will remain relatively warm, meaning rain but no snow in the mountains. Mt. Baker Ski Area has yet to open for the season because of the lack of snow.

In the Bellingham area, expect heavy rain at times through Wednesday. Temperatures will be mild, with highs in the mid-50s and lows just below 50 degrees, according to the NWS.

Temperatures will start to cool off at the end of the week, so the mountains finally could get some snow. Mt. Baker Ski Area officials are hopeful they will get enough snow to open this coming weekend, though so far the forecasts show that’s unlikely. Skiers should keep an eye on the snow report.

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