Prepare now for possible power outages, sub-freezing temperatures

What you do before can make all the difference to cope with the effects of a winter storm

January 11, 2020 - by Lynn Sterbenz, Emergency Manager

The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting winter storm conditions in Bellingham and Whatcom County this weekend and continuing through next week.

An arctic front will move into the area starting Sunday night, dropping snow levels and bringing additional winds.  The NWS predicts Bellingham could receive 3-5″ of snow Sunday.  Monday and the rest of next week we’ll experience the coldest sub-freezing temperatures of the winter so far, along with more snow. 

During extremely cold weather or winter storms, staying warm and safe can be a challenge. Winter storms can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads. To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you should know how to prepare your household before a winter storm hits.

Tips For Residents at Ho​​me

Be sure you have emergency supplies ready at home, such as extra batteries, flashlights, food, and water (at least a 3 day supply), and consider stockpiling a supply of meal-in-a-can foods such as stews, soups, canned meats, beans, or spaghetti to supplement dry stores like cereal, bread, dried meats and cheeses. Freeze-dried meals for campers and backpackers are often excellent foods that can be prepared with a minimum of heat.

Don’t forget extra medicine and baby items, as well as first aid supplies.

Charge all cell phones and battery devices in case the power goes out.

Have a battery-powered AM/FM radio or a NOAA weather radio to monitor latest weather conditions.

Have appropriate cold weather clothing available for all members of the household: warm coat, gloves or mittens, a hat, and water-resistant boots.

Be prepared for the power outages that last for extended periods of time and can impact heating, lighting, and refrigeration. In addition to winter clothing, consider sleeping bags, blankets and bedding, large towels, etc., for conserving heat.

Protect your pets. Bring them indoors, if they cannot come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep warm and access to unfrozen water.

Be sure that your chimney has been maintained and will draft effectively.

Avoid use of open flames, propane “jet” heaters, barbecues, and other inappropriate sources for indoor heating.​

FAQ and More information​​​​​​​

How do I report power outage, down lines, and trees in the road?

To report a power outage or downed power line, please call Puget Sound Energy (PSE) at 1-888-225-5773.

Keep clear of fallen utility wires. If you come across a downed utility wire of any kind, always do the following:

  • Assume it’s energized and stay as far away as you can. Energized lines can charge the ground near the point of contact and may electrocute you. If you come upon a downed line of any kind, stay at least 35 feet away. Do not attempt to rescue a person or pet.​
  • Do not drive over downed power lines. Even if they’re not energized, downed wires can get entangled with your vehicle and cause further damage.

For removal of fallen trees on city roads, call the City of Bellingham Public Works Department at 360-778-7700.

What are some of the ways emergency services and city officials will communicate with citizens?

Tune into your local AM/FM radio stations. Consider purchasing a battery-operated AM/FM radio for home, as well as a NOAA Weather Radio which broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For Bellingham weather forecast updates, visit National Weather Service Bellingham

For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, visit:

Media Contact

​Lynn Sterbenz, Emergency Manager
City of Bellingham or
(360) 778-8442 desk
(360) 303-6127 mobile​


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