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‘Big change’ in weather expected to strike Whatcom County over several days

A series of storms churning toward Western Washington will bring heavy rain and strong winds from Thursday into next week as part of a drenching atmospheric river.

Early indications show that the Nooksack River will remain well below flood stage from the South Fork Valley to Everson and farther downstream, according to predictions from the Northwest River Forecast Center.

But that could change and Whatcom County isn’t out of danger, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“It’s going to be pretty active. This will be a big change” from the recent clear and cold weather, meteorologist Kirby Cook said.

“It looks like the trend will be increasing impacts with these storm systems,” Cook told The Bellingham Herald.

Temperatures will rise over the next several days, with daytime highs in the upper 40s through Saturday, and well above 50 degrees from Sunday into Tuesday. Lows will be in the 30s and 40s.

Rain starts Thursday with a “garden variety” fall storm that will bring wind and rain to the lowlands and snow to the mountains, Cook said.

A similar storm is due to hit Friday, but with stronger winds and the potential for power outages.

Bellingham could see an inch or more of rain from Thursday through Friday and winds gusting as high as 55 mph, according to the Weather Service’s online briefing. Up to 2 feet of snow could fall in the North Cascades.

Another storm arrives Saturday night into Sunday, the first of two atmospheric rivers that weather forecasters are watching closely. An atmospheric river is a narrow band of moisture directed at a specific location.

Saturday’s storm is warmer — and windier — and it will pour heavy rain onto fresh snow, causing it to melt and send immense amounts of water into rivers that flow out of the mountains, Cook said.

That storm will be focused mostly on northwest Oregon, but another storm appears aimed at Western Washington on Monday night into Tuesday.

“It’s that second system that we’re keeping an eye on,” Cook said.