Rainfall, cooler weather ease Whatcom County burn ban

More rain is in the forecast through Saturday, when a weak high-pressure system moves into Western Washington.
More rain is in the forecast through Saturday, when a weak high-pressure system moves into Western Washington. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Wednesday’s rains have eased the Whatcom County burn ban and brought moisture to parts of Western Washington that have been parched since August’s record-breaking heat.

Only about a quarter inch of rain was recorded at Bellingham International Airport for the 24 hours ending at 4:55 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, but some areas in the county received rain in the form of showers and others saw afternoon downpours and heavy rain from a thunderstorm that rumbled through about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31.

More rain is in the forecast through Saturday, when a weak high-pressure system moves into Western Washington, according to the National Weather Service office in Seattle. Showers and possibly thunderstorms can be expected through Friday.

Forecasters said Saturday and Sunday should be mostly dry, with the clouds parting Saturday afternoon. There’s a chance of showers Sunday afternoon, but clear skies were forecast for Monday, the Labor Day holiday.

Rain is expected to return Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Highs will be in the mid-60s with lows in the mid-50s.

That should be good news to Whatcom County residents, who will be allowed to begin having recreational fires at home as outdoor burning restrictions are relaxed at noon Friday, Sept. 2. Recreational fires also will be allowed within the city limits of Bellingham starting at noon Friday – recreational fires within the city must meet certain requirements. All other outdoor burning within the city is prohibited.

For questions regarding the outdoor burn restrictions in the city, contact the Bellingham Fire Department Life Safety Division at 360-778-8420.

A burn ban at state parks will be eased Friday to allow campfires in approved fire pits at locations west of the Cascades. There are no restrictions on fires at campgrounds in the Mount Baker Ranger District, although fires are prohibited on some trails.

Meanwhile, a torrential rain squall pummeled the Sudden Valley area Wednesday afternoon and forced the closure of the YMCA facilities there. Sudden Valley Community Association President Leslie McRoberts said in a social media posting that runoff from the storm flooded the Dance Barn floor and kitchen with dirt and debris, then dripped to the YMCA below, damaging the ceiling tiles and flooding the exercise area and a utility room.

Repairs were expected to take several days, she said.

The first heavy rains of the season could not be ruled out as a factor in a four-car crash on Lakeway Drive near Queen Street, authorities said. Minor injuries were reported as one car rolled about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday, causing a backup during the evening commute.

Bellingham police Lt. Bob VanderYacht said roads can remain slick for some time after the first rains of the season as debris and oil that accumulate over the summer dry spell wash across roadways.

VanderYacht urged motorists to drive slower and leave more space for the car ahead.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty