Last week, Oregon’s largest city’s all-time heat records were broken. It could beat the new mark in the coming week.
Forecasters are of the view that many Pacific Northwest communities may experience excessive high temperatures and sweat through the hottest days in their histories as temperatures soar during a heat wave that has sent residents wanting relief.
Heat-relief products like portable air conditioners and fans got sold out in stores. Hospitals cancelled outdoor vaccination clinics, cities opened cooling centres, baseball teams cancelled or postponed weekend games and utilities braced for power outages.
According to the National Weather Service, Portland, Oregon touched 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 degree Celsius) on Saturday afternoon. The previous heat record for Oregon’s largest city was 107 F (41.7 C), a mark hit in 1965 and 1981.
Seattle reached a temperature of 101F (38.3 C) on Saturday making it the hottest June day record and the fourth time in recorded history the usually temperate city had topped 100 degrees.
Many all-time records could be broken. The forecast was for even hotter temperatures on Sunday and Monday. The highest temperature ever measured in Seattle was 103 (39.4 C) in 2009.
Other cities and towns that were also expected to break records were towns from eastern Washington state to Portland to southern Oregon. The temperatures in many areas are likely to top out 30 degrees or more above normal.
For a region that is habitual of moderate climate, and where air conditioning is not opted for by many, this is a dangerous situation.
The extended “heat dome” over the Pacific Northwest was a taste of the future as climate change reshapes weather patterns worldwide, said Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington who studies global warming and its effects on public health.
“We know from evidence around the world that climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves. We’re going to have to get used to this going forward,” she said.
James Bryant, a Seattle resident, picked up an air conditioner in anticipation of the extreme heat.
“My house is already hot, and so with the added heat over the next few days, I’ve got kids. I got to make sure they don’t get too hot as well,” Bryant said. “It seems to be a trend … So I’m not sure what’s driving it, but it’s not fun, that’s for sure.”
Officials in Multnomah County, Oregon, were asking for volunteers to help staff cooling centres as older people, homeless residents and others struggled with the heat. Cascades Street Outreach, an advocacy group for people experiencing homelessness, was going to homeless camps in the region to encourage people to use the cooling centres.
Peter Tiso, who works with Multnomah County’s Joint office of Homeless Services, told The Oregonian/OregonLive.com that the Oregon Convention Centre can hold about 300 people, but no one will be turned away from the cooling shelter. The shelter also allows pets, he said.
Unusually hot weather was expected to extend into next week for much of the region.