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Deadly ‘heat dome’ settles over Pacific Northwest spiking record breaking 113F temperature

Seattle has only hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit three times in recorded history but the National Weather Service says the city could top triple digits several times in the coming days and may eclipse the all-time record of 103 F on Monday.

The Pacific Northwest sweltered as a historic heat wave hit Washington and Oregon, with temperatures in many areas expected to top out up to 30 degrees above normal.

On the opposite side of the other side of the country, high temperatures in the Northeast will climb well into the 90s by the Sunday – well above seasonal averages. 

A deadly ‘heat dome’ has settled over Pacific Northwest spiking record breaking 113F temperatures

Robyn Stevens celebrates after winning the women's 20,000-meter race walk at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Springfield, Oregon with temperatures at 100F on Saturday and 111F on Sunday

Robyn Stevens celebrates after winning the women’s 20,000-meter race walk at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Springfield, Oregon with temperatures at 100F on Saturday and 111F on Sunday

Sydney McLaughlin wins women's 400m hurdles heat... in the heat! Temperatures in Eugene, Oregon were 100F on Saturday and expected to top 113F on Sunday

Sydney McLaughlin wins women’s 400m hurdles heat… in the heat! Temperatures in Eugene, Oregon were 100F on Saturday and expected to top 113F on Sunday 

People walk along the waterfront at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey with the skyline of Manhattan in the background. Temperatures will be in the low 90s by Sunday

People walk along the waterfront at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey with the skyline of Manhattan in the background. Temperatures will be in the low 90s by Sunday

The National Weather Service tweeted about the deadly heat urging people to keep hydrated

The National Weather Service tweeted about the deadly heat urging people to keep hydrated

Record breaking temperatures are forecast with Portland and much or Oregon possibly reaching 115F

Record breaking temperatures are forecast with Portland and much or Oregon possibly reaching 115F

The hottest of the temperatures will be from Monday to Wednesday next week.  

Back on the west coast, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued excessive heat warnings and watches across nearly all of Oregon and Washington state, along with parts of California and Idaho, telling residents that the punishing conditions could be fatal.

‘If you’re keeping a written list of the records that will fall, you might need a few pages by early next week,’ NWS Seattle tweeted. 

‘This is life-threatening heat,’ Jennifer Vines, health officer for Multnomah County in Oregon, said in a statement. ‘People need to find someplace cool to spend time during the coming days.’

This map shows how temperatures have increased across the entire country since 1970

This map shows how temperatures have increased across the entire country since 1970

A roadworks crew work on road resurfacing in Alhambra, California with temperatures soaring to the low 90s

A roadworks crew work on road resurfacing in Alhambra, California with temperatures soaring to the low 90s

The National Weather Service tweeted to remind people not to suddenly dive into lakes which can still be deceptively cold despite the warm air temperatures

The National Weather Service tweeted to remind people not to suddenly dive into lakes which can still be deceptively cold despite the warm air temperatures

Multnomah County, which includes Portland, plans to open three cooling centers this weekend, including one at the Oregon Convention Center. The city is home to some 650,000 people.

‘I’ve never seen it this hot in Portland. Having lived in California, this is hot,’ said Oscar Suarez, a 31-year-old chef at Rose City Futsal, an indoor soccer venue and pub in Portland.

Cooling centers have also been opened in parts of California and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest as the heatwave gripped the region.

Temperatures have soared due to a high-pressure dome that has built over the upper northwestern United States and Canada, the NWS said, similar to the atmospheric conditions that punished California and U.S. Southwestern states earlier this month.  

The extreme and dangerous heat is expected to break all-time records in cities and towns from eastern Washington state to southern Oregon as concerns mounted about wildfire risk in a region that’s already experiencing a crippling and extended drought.

Excessive heat warnings were issued for the entire states of Oregon and Washington along with much of California

Excessive heat warnings were issued for the entire states of Oregon and Washington along with much of California 

Inland in Washington, Oregon and Idaho triple digit temperatures are expected for much of next week

Inland in Washington, Oregon and Idaho triple digit temperatures are expected for much of next week

The triple-digit blast is expected to last for almost a full week, breaking records

The triple-digit blast is expected to last for almost a full week, breaking records 

A family orders ice cream at a food truck in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland

A family orders ice cream at a food truck in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland

A chalk drawing on the sidewalk in a residential neighborhood in Southeast Portland. The Pacific Northwest is sweltering as a historic heat wave hit Washington and Oregon

A chalk drawing on the sidewalk in a residential neighborhood in Southeast Portland. The Pacific Northwest is sweltering as a historic heat wave hit Washington and Oregon

Seattle was expected to edge above 100F  over the weekend and in Portland, Oregon, weather forecasters said the thermometer could soar to 108F by Sunday, breaking an all-time record of 107F set in 1981. 

Unusually hot weather was expected to extend into next week for much of the region.

The Northwest heat wave sent residents scrambling in a region accustomed to mild summers where many people don’t have air conditioning. Stores sold out of portable air conditioners and fans, some hospitals canceled outdoor vaccination clinics, cities opened cooling centers, baseball teams canceled or moved up weekend games and utilities braced for possible power outages.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee lifted COVID-19 capacity restrictions on publicly owned or operated and nonprofit cooling centers in light of the heat. 

Capacity is currently limited to 50% until the state fully reopens next Wednesday.

And in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown suspended capacity limits for movie theaters and shopping malls – places with air-conditioning – as well as swimming pools ahead of a statewide reopening Wednesday.

Even parts of northwest Canada and British Columbia is under a heat warning

Even parts of northwest Canada and British Columbia is under a heat warning 

Portland Airport said that records were likely to be broken over the course of the weekend

Portland Airport said that records were likely to be broken over the course of the weekend 

People gather at the Sandy River Delta, in Oregon to cool off during the start of what should be a record-setting heat wave

People gather at the Sandy River Delta, in Oregon to cool off during the start of what should be a record-setting heat wave

According to 2019 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Seattle has the lowest rate of air conditioned homes of any major American city. Only 44% of the homes in the metro area have air conditioning. In the Portland metro area that figure was 79%.

At a hardware store in Seattle, about a dozen people lined up before opening hoping to snag an air conditioning unit. A worker opened the door at 8am with bad news: there were only three units left.

One of the lucky buyers was Sarah O´Sell, who was worried for her cat amid predictions of triple digits.

‘Unfortunately, we’re starting to see this year after year,’ said O´Sell, who used a dolly to transport her new unit to her nearby apartment. ‘We’re going to be like California and that’s going to be desert down there. It’s only going to get hotter.’

Eric McLeod, a 41-year-old flooring contractor, said the brutal weather was already making his job more difficult.

The weather map appears to be ablaze with fiery reds and purples as triple-digits reign

The weather map appears to be ablaze with fiery reds and purples as triple-digits reign

People cool off at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park in Concord, California as a triple-digit heat wave continues to grip the western U.S.

People cool off at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park in Concord, California as a triple-digit heat wave continues to grip the western U.S.

People ride on tubes at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park in Concord, California

People ride on tubes at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park in Concord, California

‘The extra heat means we have to slow down, focus on self-care and put our health above the push to produce,’ McLeod said. McLeod said his business, Coastal Flooring, would also take time to help provide shade and water to the vulnerable. 

The sweltering temperatures expected on the final weekend of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials in Eugene, Oregon, also prompted USA Track and Field to reschedule several weekend events to times earlier in the day to avoid the peak heat.

And families lined up in the beating sun for ice cream and a few precious hours at community pools still operating under capacity restrictions due to COVID-19.

Sara Stathos was selling ice cream from inside an air-conditioned food truck in Portland and said the business would shut down over the weekend because the ice cream ‘basically melts as we hand it to customers’ in such hot weather.

‘We don’t want people standing out in the sun, waiting and getting sick,’ she said.

The extended ‘heat dome’ was a taste of the future for the Pacific Northwest 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.

A group relaxes at Lake Union Park in Seattle to keep cool during the city's heatwave that is forecasted to reach well over over 100F

A group relaxes at Lake Union Park in Seattle to keep cool during the city’s heatwave that is forecasted to reach well over over 100F

Seattle is set for record-breaking temperatures this weekend the city experiences temperatures up to 30 degrees higher than usual for the month of June

Seattle is set for record-breaking temperatures this weekend the city experiences temperatures up to 30 degrees higher than usual for the month of June

Sarah O'Sell transports her new air conditioning unit to her nearby apartment on a dolly in Seattle on Friday. O'Sell snagged one of the few AC units available at the Junction True Value Hardware as Pacific Northwest residents brace for an unprecedented heat wave that has temperatures forecasted in triple-digits

Sarah O’Sell transports her new air conditioning unit to her nearby apartment on a dolly in Seattle on Friday. O’Sell snagged one of the few AC units available at the Junction True Value Hardware as Pacific Northwest residents brace for an unprecedented heat wave that has temperatures forecasted in triple-digits

‘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. Temperatures are going up and extreme temperatures are going up even faster,’ she said.

‘I tell my students when they get to be as old as I am, they´re going to look back and think about how nice the summers used to be.’

But weather experts say extreme weather events such as the late-spring heatwaves that have descended on parts of the United States this year can’t be linked directly to climate change.

But more unusual weather patterns could become more common amid rising global temperatures, NWS meteorologist Eric Schoening told Reuters in an interview last week.  

The heat is also worrisome for the region because warm air sucks moisture out of the soil and vegetation more efficiently than cooler air and that makes everything more prone to fire, she said.

Oregon in particular was devastated by an unusually intense wildfire season last fall that torched about 1 million acres, burned more than 4,000 homes and killed nine people. 

Several fires are already burning around the Pacific Northwest and much of the region is already in extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Fire crews were being positioned ahead of time in areas where fire risk was high and counties and cities across the region enacted burn bans – in some cases even temporarily prohibiting personal fireworks for the July 4 holiday weekend.


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