Rising tide causes coastal flooding and impacts on Whatcom roads

Unusually high tides and winds on Friday caused coastal flooding in Sandy Point and Birch Bay, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Nearby roads were likely to be affected throughout the afternoon of January 7, and drivers were advised to avoid the southern end of Birch Bay Drive and Sucia Drive at Sandy Point in a press release from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

The water is expected to subside and roads should be cleared by late afternoon, said John Gargett, deputy director of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Division.

At least a dozen homes were affected by the flooding, along with the Sandy Point fire station, he said.

Friday’s high tides – an unscientific name for very high tides – were expected to be between 10.5 and 11.5 feet, but the storm tide was 12 feet, according to the press release.

The National Weather Service in Seattle issued a coastal flood warning for western Whatcom County until 2 p.m. Friday, as well as a wind advisory until 7 p.m. Friday for counties west of Whatcom, western Skagit and San Juan, and the Admiralty Inlet area.

West winds were blowing 20 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts up to 40 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service around 2 p.m. Friday.

Friday’s flooding is not unusual, with the Whatcom Coast experiencing two to three similar occurrences each year, Gargett said. Another royal tide is forecast for tomorrow, but it should be about a foot lower.

“It’s looking pretty good for tomorrow, like no flooding,” Gargett said.

This story was originally published January 7, 2022 12:10 p.m.

Ysabelle Kempe joined the Bellingham Herald in the summer of 2021 to cover environmental affairs. She graduated from Northeastern University in Boston and worked for the Boston Globe and Grist.

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