Pacific Northwest smashes temperature records with 112F heatwave experts warn is ‘life-threatening’ 

Oregon and Washington have been gripped by a record-breaking heatwave that has seen temperatures hit an all-time high of 112F, with the extreme weather closing COVID vaccine clinics, canceling baseball games and even Olympic trials.   

Portland hit a new record high temperature of 108F on Saturday, then broke that record just hours later on Sunday when a temperature of 112F was recorded at its airport. The city’s searing weather was caused by a once-in-a-millennium weather phenomenon known as a heat dome. 

The National Weather Service has warned that record heat – the highest experienced in the city since records began in 1940 – could be smashed again by midweek, with experts warning the blazing weather could be ‘life-threatening,’ for the elderly, homeless and those with underlying medical conditions. 

The Dalles, a smaller city east of Portland, hit 114F on Sunday. That is just one degree off the state’s all-time temperature record, of 115F recorded in Medford, Southern Oregon, in 1946.  

Temperatures reached 102 degrees on Saturday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and tied a record with 103 degrees on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. 

‘Sea-Tac has reached 101. That’s now the first time in our climate record of two consecutive days above 100. This includes Seattle area records that date back to 1894,’ the National Weather Service said on Twitter.

AccuWeather’s team of expert forecasters are describing Northwest’s heat wave as ‘unprecedented’, ‘life-threatening’ and ‘historic.’ 

The Pacific Northwest normally enjoys temperate weather all year-round that is neither too warm nor too cold. Most residents don’t have air conditioners – with the cooling devices now sold out across the region as locals rush to try and cool their homes down.  

There’s a heat advisory or warning along the West Coast that stretches from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. 

The region has already felt temperature it never experienced before, according AccuWeather meteorologists, and the summer hasn’t even reached its peak.  

It’s an intensity never recorded by modern humans, CBS News reported. 

‘By one measure it is more rare than a once in a 1,000 year event — which means that if you could live in this particular spot for 1,000 years, you’d likely only experience a heat dome like this once, if ever,’ CBS News reported based on their meteorologists. 

A heat done is an area of high pressure that sits over a region like a lid on a pot and traps in heat, National Geographic explained. 

This heat wave is particularly notable because it’s taking place so early in the summer and will be ‘one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves’ in the history of the Northwest, the National Weather Service in Spokane, Washington said. 

People cool off in Silver Lake at Thornton A. Sullivan Park on Saturday, June 26, in Everett, Washington

People cool off in Silver Lake at Thornton A. Sullivan Park on Saturday, June 26, in Everett, Washington

People cool off in Silver Lake at Thornton A. Sullivan Park on Saturday, June 26, in Everett, Washington

David Parada, 7, left, and Abel Parada, 8, run through a heavy spray of water creating a rainbow during a heat wave at Walter E. Hall Park on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington. The Everett Fire Department set up a fire hose sprinkler station to help people cool down and escape the heat Saturday afternoon.

David Parada, 7, left, and Abel Parada, 8, run through a heavy spray of water creating a rainbow during a heat wave at Walter E. Hall Park on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington. The Everett Fire Department set up a fire hose sprinkler station to help people cool down and escape the heat Saturday afternoon.

David Parada, 7, left, and Abel Parada, 8, run through a heavy spray of water creating a rainbow during a heat wave at Walter E. Hall Park on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington. The Everett Fire Department set up a fire hose sprinkler station to help people cool down and escape the heat Saturday afternoon.

Portland, Oregon opened cooling shelters like this one, pictured on June 27, to help people without air conditioning cope with the heatwave

Portland, Oregon opened cooling shelters like this one, pictured on June 27, to help people without air conditioning cope with the heatwave

Portland, Oregon opened cooling shelters like this one, pictured on June 27, to help people without air conditioning cope with the heatwave

Portland residents fill a cooling center with a capacity of about 300 people at the Oregon Convention Center on June 27 amidst record-breaking temperatures

Portland residents fill a cooling center with a capacity of about 300 people at the Oregon Convention Center on June 27 amidst record-breaking temperatures

Portland residents fill a cooling center with a capacity of about 300 people at the Oregon Convention Center on June 27 amidst record-breaking temperatures

Washington state is feeling heat it's never felt before, with many municipalities breaking all-time records

Washington state is feeling heat it's never felt before, with many municipalities breaking all-time records

Washington state is feeling heat it’s never felt before, with many municipalities breaking all-time records 

A boy slides into a large puddle at Walter E. Hall Park during a heat wave on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington

A boy slides into a large puddle at Walter E. Hall Park during a heat wave on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington

A boy slides into a large puddle at Walter E. Hall Park during a heat wave on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington

Rosie Ahmach, 50, films Beepo 2, 70, dunking his head in a bucket of water on Sunday, June 27, 2021 at Judkins Park in Seattle

Rosie Ahmach, 50, films Beepo 2, 70, dunking his head in a bucket of water on Sunday, June 27, 2021 at Judkins Park in Seattle

Rosie Ahmach, 50, films Beepo 2, 70, dunking his head in a bucket of water on Sunday, June 27, 2021 at Judkins Park in Seattle

People line the beach at George Rogers Park to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Lake Oswego, Oregon on June 27

People line the beach at George Rogers Park to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Lake Oswego, Oregon on June 27

People line the beach at George Rogers Park to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Lake Oswego, Oregon on June 27

Oregon's new temperature records, which doesn't include Portland's new record set on Sunday. Meteorologists predict Sunday's record may fall by mid week

Oregon's new temperature records, which doesn't include Portland's new record set on Sunday. Meteorologists predict Sunday's record may fall by mid week

Oregon’s new temperature records, which doesn’t include Portland’s new record set on Sunday. Meteorologists predict Sunday’s record may fall by mid week

AccuWeather says the heat the Pacific Northwest is feeling is 'life-threatening', especially for elderly and homeless

AccuWeather says the heat the Pacific Northwest is feeling is 'life-threatening', especially for elderly and homeless

AccuWeather says the heat the Pacific Northwest is feeling is ‘life-threatening’, especially for elderly and homeless

Mei Vandervelde (right) and Dayne Smith take their Husky puppy dog wearing a life vest out on a paddleboard in Elliott Bay in Seattle on June 27

Mei Vandervelde (right) and Dayne Smith take their Husky puppy dog wearing a life vest out on a paddleboard in Elliott Bay in Seattle on June 27

Mei Vandervelde (right) and Dayne Smith take their Husky puppy dog wearing a life vest out on a paddleboard in Elliott Bay in Seattle on June 27

Justin Swanner and his dog Havoc swim in the Clackamas River to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Oregon City, Oregon on June 27

Justin Swanner and his dog Havoc swim in the Clackamas River to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Oregon City, Oregon on June 27

Justin Swanner and his dog Havoc swim in the Clackamas River to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Oregon City, Oregon on June 27

Portland, Oregon hit a new record high temperature of 108 degrees F on Saturday, broke the record on Sunday with a high of 111 degrees F and forecasts predict the record can be broken at least one more time by the middle of the week. 

The previous record 107 degrees F in in 1965 and 1981. 

To put the temperatures in perspective, average highs in June can be anywhere from the 70s in eastern Washington and Oregon, and many people in this part of the country don’t have air conditioners because of the typically temperate conditions, AccuWeather meteorologists said. 

Those looking to buy an AC unit are having a difficult time. The Associated Press reported that most stores are already sold out.   

The Oregon Health Authority lifted COVID-19 capacity limits at pools, movie theaters and malls, and some cities have opened cooling centers. 

Derick Bradford pushes his son Warren, 5, into the water during a heat wave on his inflatable dragon at Thornton A. Sullivan Park on Saturday, June 26, in Everett, Washington

Derick Bradford pushes his son Warren, 5, into the water during a heat wave on his inflatable dragon at Thornton A. Sullivan Park on Saturday, June 26, in Everett, Washington

Derick Bradford pushes his son Warren, 5, into the water during a heat wave on his inflatable dragon at Thornton A. Sullivan Park on Saturday, June 26, in Everett, Washington

Yefikir Getahun, 13, runs through the fire hose sprinkler station set up by the Everett Fire Department during a heat wave at Walter E. Hall Park on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington

Yefikir Getahun, 13, runs through the fire hose sprinkler station set up by the Everett Fire Department during a heat wave at Walter E. Hall Park on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington

Yefikir Getahun, 13, runs through the fire hose sprinkler station set up by the Everett Fire Department during a heat wave at Walter E. Hall Park on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Everett, Washington

Two people jump from a pedestrian bridge at Lake Union Park in Seattle on June 27

Two people jump from a pedestrian bridge at Lake Union Park in Seattle on June 27

Two people jump from a pedestrian bridge at Lake Union Park in Seattle on June 27

Kayakers paddle on the Clackamas River to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Oregon City, Oregon on June 27.

Kayakers paddle on the Clackamas River to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Oregon City, Oregon on June 27.

Kayakers paddle on the Clackamas River to escape from the heat during a record setting heat wave in Oregon City, Oregon on June 27.

Kids play in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon on the hottest day ever recorded in the city

Kids play in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon on the hottest day ever recorded in the city

Kids play in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon on the hottest day ever recorded in the city

People sleep at a cooling shelter set up during an unprecedented heat wave in Portland, Oregon, on June 27

People sleep at a cooling shelter set up during an unprecedented heat wave in Portland, Oregon, on June 27

People sleep at a cooling shelter set up during an unprecedented heat wave in Portland, Oregon, on June 27

Officials in Multnomah County, Oregon are asking for volunteers to help staff cooling centers, like the one pictured here in Portland on June 27

Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27 in Portland, Oregon.

Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27 in Portland, Oregon.

Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27 in Portland, Oregon.

Officials in Multnomah County, Oregon, which warned of ‘life-threatening’ heat, were asking for volunteers to help staff cooling centers as older people and the homeless. 

King County in Washington state closed COVID testing sites, and Seattle opened additional public library branches Sunday, and will again Monday, to provide additional cooling centers, The Seattle Times reported.

Seattle’s light rail trains may have to operate at reduced speeds because of excessive heat on the tracks, causing delays that could continue into the work week, Sound Transit said Sunday.

And baseball teams playing in the Pacific northwest have either postponed or cancelled games. Sunday’s competition at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, was suspended. 

And there doesn’t appear to be relief any time soon. 

‘While the discussion will shift away from record-setting temperatures in places such as Seattle and Portland later in the week, unusual heat will still remain in place for the Pacific Northwest,’ AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert said. 

Annie Kunz walks off the track after the competition at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, was suspended, and other sporting events like baseball games were cancelled

Annie Kunz walks off the track after the competition at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, was suspended, and other sporting events like baseball games were cancelled

Annie Kunz walks off the track after the competition at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, was suspended, and other sporting events like baseball games were cancelled 

Fans leaves after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday, June 27

Fans leaves after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday, June 27

Fans leaves after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday, June 27

Fans gets spay with water after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon

Fans gets spay with water after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon

Fans gets spay with water after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon

A sign displaying the temperature is shown after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on June 27 in Eugene, Oregon

A sign displaying the temperature is shown after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on June 27 in Eugene, Oregon

A sign displaying the temperature is shown after events were postponed due to high heat at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on June 27 in Eugene, Oregon

People jump from a pedestrian bridge at Lake Union Park in Seattle on June 27

People jump from a pedestrian bridge at Lake Union Park in Seattle on June 27

People jump from a pedestrian bridge at Lake Union Park in Seattle on June 27

'While the discussion will shift away from record-setting temperatures in places such as Seattle and Portland later in the week, unusual heat will still remain in place for the Pacific Northwest,' AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert said.

'While the discussion will shift away from record-setting temperatures in places such as Seattle and Portland later in the week, unusual heat will still remain in place for the Pacific Northwest,' AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert said.

‘While the discussion will shift away from record-setting temperatures in places such as Seattle and Portland later in the week, unusual heat will still remain in place for the Pacific Northwest,’ AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert said.

She said temperatures are expected to be about 20 degrees above normal each day for areas, according to Gilbert. 

Some are pointing to global warming for this unrelenting and prolonged heat wave in a part of the US that typically doesn’t deal with these temperatures. 

Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington who studies global warming and its effects on public health, told the Associated Press that the heat wave is a sign of what to expect in the future as climate change reshapes weather patterns worldwide.

‘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.

Just last week, Southwest states – which are no stranger to heat – broke records and water supplies dried up.  

A hydropower plant at California’s drought-stricken Lake Oroville that powers up to 800,000 homes was danger of being shut down for the first time since it opened 1967 because the water levels dropped so low, and Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam hit its lowest level.  

Death Valley hits 129F and cities in the West reach 100F as ‘apocalyptic’ heat wave affects 50M and puts huge strain on power grid 

 Power grids in California were being pushed to the limit as a record-breaking heatwave continued, and residents cranked up the air conditioning to cope.

Energy providers issued a Flex Alert for 6-9pm on Friday, ‘to reduce stress on the power grid due to extreme heat.’

During those hours, people are urged to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and avoid using washers, dishwashers and other major appliances.

 

The alert was already in place for 5-10pm on Thursday, when Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, issued an emergency proclamation to deal with the heat.

He loosened the rules around the use of generators so businesses could stay open, and ordered the freeing up of additional energy capacity to help the state’s energy grid.

Newsom’s declaration came after temperatures in Death Valley hit 129F – the highest this year.

Death Valley has long held the record for the highest air temperature ever recorded on Earth, with a 1913 recording of 134F – although the accuracy of the reading is debated.

Last year Death Valley was confirmed to have hit 130F.

John Gillette takes a photo of Sarah Null as she stands in a swimsuit next to a thermometer displaying temperatures of 129 degrees Fahrenheit at the Furnace Creek visitor's center at Death Valley National Park. The hottest temperature ever recorded there was 134F, in 1913 - although the accuracy of that reading is debated. Last year it reached 130F

John Gillette takes a photo of Sarah Null as she stands in a swimsuit next to a thermometer displaying temperatures of 129 degrees Fahrenheit at the Furnace Creek visitor's center at Death Valley National Park. The hottest temperature ever recorded there was 134F, in 1913 - although the accuracy of that reading is debated. Last year it reached 130F

John Gillette takes a photo of Sarah Null as she stands in a swimsuit next to a thermometer displaying temperatures of 129 degrees Fahrenheit at the Furnace Creek visitor’s center at Death Valley National Park. The hottest temperature ever recorded there was 134F, in 1913 – although the accuracy of that reading is debated. Last year it reached 130F

Across the West, records were being broken – with California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona all feeling extreme temperatures.

In Nevada, the National Weather Service said on Friday that high temperatures in Las Vegas would peak at 114 degrees.

The all-time high for Las Vegas is 117, reached in June 2017.

On Thursday, the all-time high temperature was tied in Palm Springs, California at 123 degrees, breaking the previous June record of 122 degrees.

Salt Lake City tied its all-time record high of 107 degrees.

The old record was notably set in July — when temperatures are usually at their highest for the year in that region.

Denver hit 100 degrees on Thursday, marking only the sixth time in historical record keeping that it has reached 100 degrees on three or more consecutive days.

The beginning of the week was even more intense: from Sunday to Tuesday alone, 159 maximum daily high temperature records were broken, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The high temperatures were coming early, too.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service in Tucson said that it was 100 degrees at 8.14am – the second earliest time in the day recorded since 1948.

The earliest ever time for hitting 100 degrees was 8:02am, in June 2017.

The all-time high temperature recorded in Phoenix of 122 degrees occurred on June 26, 1990.

Heat warnings have been in place all week, with residents urged to seek shade, drink water, and avoid excessive activity in the middle of the day.

‘It feels somewhat apocalyptic with the record high heat, the smoke from wildfires tearing through the Sonoran desert and the news on the drought,’ said Emily Kirkland, a communications organizer for a Phoenix nonprofit group.

‘Just the 10-minute walk from my house to the light rail made me queasy.’

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings for five states – California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and parts of Colorado – warning that temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) can be dangerous.

‘Very hot conditions will continue for interior areas through Saturday, followed by gradual cooling into next week. Until then, USE CAUTION as heat can be deadly! Most importantly, stay hydrated and never leave kids or pets in a hot car!!’ the National Weather Service station for Los Angeles said on Twitter.

‘It’s miserable, you literally just don’t leave your house unless you have to,’ said Hannah Knight, 20, a waitress at The Coronado coffee shop in Phoenix.

The diner has an outdoor dining area but ‘when it reaches over 110 (degrees Fahrenheit), there’s no way to make it comfortable,’ she said.

A high-pressure ridge, or dome, over the Southwest has been blamed for the heat wave.

‘Every year it’s hot in the Southwest,’ said Bob Oravec, National Weather Service meteorologist, from the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

‘It just seems to be more newsworthy when you have temperatures of 115 or so day after day. It’s pretty hot.’

Children in California fool around on Alameda Beach, in a bid to keep cool as the temperatures across the state soared

Children in California fool around on Alameda Beach, in a bid to keep cool as the temperatures across the state soared

Children in California fool around on Alameda Beach, in a bid to keep cool as the temperatures across the state soared

Power systems in Texas and California have so far withstood the strain but operators said that if residents did not conserve energy in the late afternoon, rolling blackouts could be required to keep the system running.

In Texas, where temperatures have moderated, demand hit a record on Monday, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

California’s power demand peaked on Thursday at 41,364 megawatts and was expected to surpass that level on Friday, according to the California Independent System Operator, which operates the grid in most of the state. One megawatt can power about 200 homes on a hot day.

The heat wave extended to the Midwest, prompting weather services to issue advisories for Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, before a strong cold front brings relief by the end of the weekend.

Temperatures in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, were forecast to top 100 degrees on Friday.

Relief, relatively speaking, is also forecast to come to the Southwest at the beginning of next week, Oravec said.

 

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