Monday, February 24, 2014

Bellingham Snow: The Pride and the Shame

View towards downtown Bellingham

A point of pride for Whatcom County is the periodic micro climate cold weather events. For most of the winter, Whatcom County and Bellingham are very much the same as the rest of western Washington. But if cold air and high pressure builds up in the British Columbia interior, Whatcom County's weather and to a lesser extent the San Juans and north coast of the Olympic Peninsula will have weather markedly different than the rest of western Washington.

This weekend and continuing into today fit that difference. Even Cliff Mass put up a hyperbole headline bellingham-and-environs-is-buried-in-snow and provides a description of the snow event. A comment on the post by Colleen sums up the micro climate, "Left Lakewood around noon, driving back to north Whatcom County. When we hit the road it was 45 degrees with no precipitation. Light rain in Tacoma. Heavier rain through Seattle and Everett. Swirling snowflakes and light wind in Mount Vernon. Real snow and wind in Bellingham with somewhat messy roads. Problems really began north of B'ham due to the northeaster and accompanying snow drifts. By the time I reached our place in Lynden the drifts were already 4 feet high. Definitely qualifies as one of our more notable "blizzards" of late, though it would take much more snow, over a longer period of time, to rank big time."      

Even this morning the cold temperatures were hanging in Whatcom County. NWS noted the pressure difference between interior BC and Bellingham is still strong enough to keep the clod interior air flowing:

SNOW WILL FALL AT TIMES UP IN THE FRASER OUTFLOW OVER WRN WHATCOM COUNTY. THAT WILL BE CHANGING TO WET SNOW THEN RAIN...BUT BLI-YWL IS -14.5MB AT 8AM AND A WINTER STORM WARNING IS STILL IN EFFECT FOR WRN WHATCOM COUNTY TODAY.
 
Fortunately the shame part of the snow event will be short. Despite the more frequent and large snows in Bellingham relative to the rest of western Washington, very little sidewalk clearing takes place. Hence, my walk to the office this morning was a bit hampered and the walk home though deep slush and ice pickled my feet. Partly irritating as I walked by 4 parking lots cleared of snow, but with the sidewalks left. 
 
 Perhaps it is because I was born in New Hampshire and lived for a time in the Midwest that my attitude towards what one does when it snows is a bit different that most Bellinghamhasters.
 
Stratum Group office at Haleck and Young - Winter 2012 
"Blessed are the snow shovellers, for they are kind to pedestrians" - Lisa, Winter 2014.
 
 

5 comments:

Dave Wenning said...

I am not that far from you, but enough to make a big difference. We got 1-2" Saturday night, but it mostly turned to slush on Sunday. It snowed lightly all day Sunday, but nothing stuck. It could have been very different if this Fraser River nor'easter had pushed just a little further.

magmatist said...

Dan,
I live just north of Fairhaven. I always shovel my sidewalk [three times on Sunday], but am the only one on my entire street to do so. I grew up in Tacoma in the late 50s and through the 60s, where snow is less frequent than here, but snow shoveling was much more common. I'd get together with a couple of buddies and we would offer to shovel sidewalks of homes and businesses for a couple bucks a whack. We got rich. Kids these days...

Dan McShane said...

Dave W: the edge of the cold seemed to stay mostly just south of Bellingham with a late Sunady push further south then a retreat back so that Bellingham stayed all snow throughout the storm. But there have been storms where Bellingham is sun and wind and the big bump is down your way.

Magma man: I know you are one of the blessed on this issue.

Geezerhiker said...

Not so sure about the shame thing. I moved here from Michigan 14 years ago and the first time it snowed I was right out there shoveling...felt a little silly when the snow was all melted a few hours later. Felt even sillier a few snows (I.e. a few years) later when I shoveled and the exposed sidewalk turned to glare ice overnight. I did shovel a path (and sanded it) this time but didn't feel great about it - was it an attractive nuisance? Mightn't someone be better off slogging through the slop on the street than cracking their skull on my sidewalk?

When in Rome...

Dan McShane said...

Geeze: You are right that snow removal can be tricky. I will say, however, that the street slop was frozen this morning and there were plenty of slick spots walking on the street and the sidewalk slop was frozen hard and was slick and lumpy which precludes the ice-shuffle walk. Perhaps the other problem is that snow tends to just shut the whole town down for as long as it on the street.