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Jan. 16, 2022

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All eyes on Nooksack River as rain continues in Whatcom County


BELLINGHAM — Residents and public officials were watching the Nooksack River in Everson, Sumas and other flood-stricken communities as persistent rain pushed the water toward flood stage for what could be a third time in two weeks.

A flood watch remained in effect late Tuesday, Nov. 30, as rainfall neared a daily record in Bellingham, where more than an inch was recorded by 6 p.m.

Rain was expected to continue Wednesday, Dec. 1, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“The focus for the heaviest rain on Wednesday will be northern areas, and Skagit/Whatcom counties,” the weather service said online. “Rivers levels will rise through Wednesday for potential river flooding in these areas.”

Mayor John Perry of Everson said that he and other city officials were watching the river and the forecasts, and weren’t sure what to expect.

“Everybody out here is on edge with the rain,” Perry told The Bellingham Herald.

“We have had so much general flooding that doesn’t have anything to do with the river,” he said.

Creeks are overflowing, storm drains are full and normal street runoff has nowhere to go after two rounds of flooding and five “atmospheric river” storms since Nov. 11, he said.

“There’s a lot of anxiety that it’s causing,” Perry said.

But so far, the river was staying within its banks Tuesday evening, he said.

Water levels in Sumas continued to drop through Tuesday evening in Sumas, Mayor Kyle Christensen said on the city’s Facebook page.

“The Cherry Street bridge is not being bypassed with flood water anymore. That means we are done receiving that excess water flow from the Nooksack River going over in Everson,” Christensen said.

But power was shut off to several homes Tuesday afternoon near Hovel Road, where Boon Creek was backing up and part of Hovel Road was removed to ease pressure from a blocked culvert.

Current data from the Northwest River Forecast Center shows the Nooksack River cresting early Wednesday just below moderate flood stage.

At Ferndale, the river crest was expected around midday Wednesday, about 1 foot above moderate flood stage.

Those levels are below the river height on Nov. 13-15, when floodwaters devastated cities, towns, farms and businesses along the Nooksack River and its floodplain, dropping a month’s worth of rain in less than 72 hours and inundating communities from the South Fork Valley to the river delta at Lummi Nation.

This week’s river forecast levels are also below those seen after the second round of record rainfall on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27-28, which caused the Nooksack River to push over its banks in Everson and the floodwaters to reach Sumas early Monday, Nov. 29.