Unusually early heatwave in Pacific Northwest could break records


Temperatures are expected to start rising significantly on Saturday in parts of the Pacific Northwest as an early heat wave takes hold, possibly breaking records and worsening the wildfires already burning in western Canada.

The historically temperate region has dealt with scorching summer temperatures and unprecedented wildfires fueled by climate change in recent years.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory that lasted from Saturday through Monday for much of the western parts of the states of Oregon and Washington. He said the temperatures could increase the risk of heat-related illness, particularly for those who are dehydrated or lack effective cooling.

Temperatures in Portland, Oregon, are expected to hover around 94 F all weekend, according to the weather service. Current daily temperature records for May 13 and 14 are 92 F and 91 F, dating from 1973 and 2014, respectively.

Temperatures in the Seattle area could also match or exceed daily records, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch. The mercury could approach 85 F on Saturday and hit 90 on Sunday, he said.

Unseasonably high temperatures could further fuel the dozens of fires burning in Canada’s western province of Alberta, where authorities have ordered evacuations and declared a state of emergency. Northwest residents and officials have been trying to adjust to the likely reality of longer, hotter heat waves following the deadly «heat dome» weather event in 2021 that caused record temperatures and deaths across the region.

Elizabeth Romero and her three children were among those cooling off in a fountain in downtown Portland on Friday afternoon.

“We decided to drop by… until we all feel better,” he said, adding that he plans to look for shady parks over the weekend.

King County, home to Seattle, ordered transportation operators such as bus drivers to allow people to ride for free if they were seeking respite from the heat or heading to a cooling center. The county’s regional homeless authority said several cooling and day centers will open throughout the county.

Authorities also urged people to be careful with the cold water temperatures, in case they are tempted to swim in a river or lake to cool off. River temperatures are probably in the 100s and 100s, said Higa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Residents and officials in the Pacific Northwest have become more vigilant about heat wave preparations after some 800 people died in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia during the heat dome weather event in late June and early on July 1, 2021. The temperature at that time spiked to a high -time high of 116 F in Portland and broke heat records in cities and towns across the region. Many of those who died were older people living alone.

In response, Oregon passed a law requiring all new homes built after April 2024 to have air conditioning installed in at least one room. The law already prohibits landlords in most cases from restricting tenants from installing cooling devices in their rental units.

Last summer, Portland launched a heat response program with the goal of installing portable heat pumps and refrigeration units in low-income homes, prioritizing older residents who live alone, as well as those with underlying health conditions. . Local nonprofit organizations participating in the program installed more than 3,000 units last year, according to the city’s Office of Planning and Sustainability.

Officials in Multnomah County, home to Portland, said they were not planning to open special cooling centers for now, but are monitoring the forecast and may do so if necessary.

«This is the first significant event … and it’s early days for us,» said Chris Voss, the county’s director of emergency management. “We are not looking at a situation where we hear that this is extremely dangerous. That being said, we don’t know if it’s going to deviate.»

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