PORTLAND, Ore. – Heat wave duration records could be broken in the Pacific Northwest this week and authorities are expanding capacity at some cooling centers as triple-digit temperatures are expected to persist through the weekend.
“We’re going to be a few degrees below 100 degrees every day for the next few days through Saturday,” said Colby Neuman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon.
Temperatures in Oregon’s largest city are expected to rise back to 101 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday. On Tuesday, Portland set a daily record of 102 F.
Seattle also reported a new record daily high of 94 F on Tuesday. The heatwave was also expected to continue in western Washington through Saturday.
The National Weather Service has extended excessive heat warnings from Thursday through Saturday evening.
The duration of the heat wave puts Portland “in the running” to tie its longest streak of six straight days at 95 F or higher, Neuman said.
According to climate experts, climate change is causing prolonged heat waves in the Pacific Northwest, a region where weeks of hot spells have historically been rare.
On Wednesday, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office said at least two people have died from suspected hyperthermia during heatwave KGW reported. One death occurred Monday in Portland, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office said. The state coroner’s office said the designation of heat-related death is preliminary and subject to change following further investigation.
Heat-related 911 calls in Portland have tripled in recent days, from an estimated eight calls on Sunday to 28 calls on Tuesday, said Dan Douthit, a spokesman for the city’s Bureau of Emergency Management. Most of the calls involved a medical response, Douthit added.
Multnomah County said more people have been to emergency rooms for heat-related symptoms.
Visits to the emergency department “have remained elevated since Sunday,” the county said in a statement. “In the last three days, hospitals have treated 13 people for heat illness, when they would normally count on two or three.”
People who worked or exercised outdoors were among those taken to emergency rooms, along with the elderly, the statement added.
The people of Portland’s legendary food truck industry are among those who work outside. Many food trucks have closed as the sidewalks sizzle.
Rico Loverde, the chef and owner of food truck Monster Smash Burgers, said the temperature inside his truck is generally 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, bringing it to 120F at his tiny shop this week.
Loverde said he closes when it gets over 95F because his fridges overheat and shut down. Last week, even with slightly cooler temperatures in the mid-90s, Loverde contracted heat stroke from working in his shopping cart for hours, he said.
“It hurts; it sure hurts. I still pay my employees when we’re closed like this because they also have to pay the bills, but it’s not good for a small business,” he said Tuesday.
Multnomah County said its four emergency cold shelters were half full for Tuesday night with 130 people staying the night. However, in anticipation of greater demand, officials decided to expand capacity to almost 300 people at the four locations.
William Nonluecha, who lives in a tent in Portland, sought shade with some friends as the temperature rose Wednesday afternoon. Nonluecha was less than a minute’s walk from a cold store set up by local authorities, but was unaware that it was open. He said the heat in his tent was almost unbearable.
His friend Mel Taylor, who was homeless last year but now has temporary accommodation, said during a record-breaking heatwave last summer, a man died of heat exhaustion in a tent near him and no one noticed. He fears the same could happen to him this summer.
“He was in his tent for about a week and the smell, that’s how they figured out he was dead,” Taylor said. “It is sad.”
Residents and officials in the North West have been trying to adjust to the likely reality of longer, hotter heatwaves that followed last summer’s deadly “Heat Dome” weather phenomenon, which resulted in record high temperatures and deaths.
About 800 people died during this heat wave in late June and early July in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The temperature rose to an all-time high of 116 F in Portland at the time, breaking heat records in cities and towns across the region. Many of the dead were elderly and lived alone.
Other regions of the US often experience temperatures of 100 degrees. But in regions like the Pacific Northwest, people aren’t as used to the heat and are more susceptible to it, said Craig Crandall, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
“There is a much greater risk for people in areas like the Northwest to experience more heat-related injuries and deaths,” Crandall said.
Officials in Seattle and Portland on Tuesday issued air quality advisories expected to last through Saturday, warning smog could reach levels that could be unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Further south, the National Weather Service issued a heat warning for western Nevada and northeastern California on Wednesday, scheduled to last late Thursday morning through Saturday night. Across the region, daily high temperatures will be near records of between 99 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/temperatures-hit-triple-digits-northwest-rcna40389 In the north-west, temperatures could be in the triple digits again