Unusually early heat wave in Pacific Northwest tests records

PORTLAND, Ore. The Pacific Northwest saw an early heat wave on Saturday, with some regions experiencing temperatures that were on the verge of shattering records. Heat advisories were in effect into Monday.

The historically temperate area has recently struggled with scorching summer heat and unheard-of wildfires brought on by climate change.

For a large portion of the western regions of both Oregon and Washington state, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory that is in effect from Saturday through Monday. It warned that the temperatures could make people more susceptible to heat-related illnesses, especially if they are dehydrated or lack access to efficient cooling.

The National Weather Service predicted that temperatures in Portland, Oregon, will be in the mid 90s F (32 C) during the weekend. According to the Portland office of the National Weather Service, the temperature at Portland International Airport on Saturday rose to 93 F (33.9 C), shattering the previous record of 92 F (33.3 C) that had been set in 1973. Before the day was over, the agency predicted that temperatures would still warm a little. Many Oregon municipalities had matched previous record highs by late afternoon.

According to Trent Davis, a meteorologist with the Seattle weather service, the airport’s temperature at midday on Saturday was 84 F (28.9 C), and warmer temperatures are forecast for the area on Sunday. He claimed that Saturday’s temperature at the airport set a new record of 85 F (29.4 C), which was previously attained in 2018. At that location, he suggested, it may get as hot as 90 F (32C) on Sunday.

The several fires raging in Canada’s western Alberta province, where authorities have ordered evacuations and declared a state of emergency, might be fanned further by the unseasonably high temperatures. Following the disastrous “heat dome” weather phenomena in 2021 that led to record temperatures and fatalities throughout the region, residents and officials in the Northwest have been attempting to adapt to the likely reality of longer, hotter heat waves.

On Friday afternoon, Elizabeth Romero and her three kids were among those taking a dip in a fountain in the heart of Portland.

She explained, “We decided to stop by… until we all feel better,” and added that she intended to look for shaded places this weekend.

King County, where Seattle is located, instructed bus drivers to give passengers a free trip if they are seeking relief from the heat or travelling to a cooling facility. Numerous day care and cooling centres will operate throughout the county, according to the county’s regional homeless authority.

In case they are tempted to swim in a river or lake to cool off, authorities also advised people to be cautious of the freezing water temperatures. According to National Weather Service meteorologist Higa, river temperatures are likely in the low- to mid-40s (4.4 to 7.2 C).

Following the deaths of over 800 people in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia during the heat dome weather event in late June and early July 2021, residents and authorities in the Pacific Northwest have increased their vigilance on heat wave preparations. In Portland, the temperature at the time reached an all-time high of 116 F (46.7 C), shattering heat records in towns and cities throughout the region. Older persons who lived alone made up a large portion of the deceased.

In response, Oregon approved a rule requiring the installation of air conditioning in at least one room in all new homes constructed after April 2024. Most of the time, it is already against the law for landlords to forbid tenants from installing cooling systems in their rental properties.

Portland started a heat response programme last summer to install portable heat pumps and air conditioners in low-income homes, giving elderly and single people as well as those with underlying health issues priority. The city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability reports that over 3,000 units were placed by neighbourhood nonprofits taking part in the programme last year.

Multnomah County, where Portland is located, officials said they don’t currently have any plans to create special cooling centres, but they will be watching the forecast and may do so if necessary.

Chris Voss, the county’s director of emergency management, said, “This is the first notable event, and it is early for us. “We aren’t witnessing a circumstance where it is clear that this is exceedingly risky. Despite this, we are unsure if it will wander.

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