Northwestern U.S. heat wave could have hottest day on Tuesday
Temperatures in Portland, Oregon could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, likely making it the hottest day in a week-long heatwave for the northeastern region. western Pacific which rarely experiences such scorching weather.
Forecasters have issued an excessive heat warning for parts of Oregon and Washington state. Temperatures could reach the 90s (32 C) in Seattle and 110 F (43.3 Celsius) in eastern parts of Oregon and Washington.
While inland parts of the states often experience high temperatures, this type of hot blast doesn’t occur as often in Portland and Seattle.
“Having five-day or week-long stretches above 90 degrees is very, very rare for the Pacific Northwest,” said Vivek Shandas, professor of climate adaptation at Portland State University.
As the Northwestern United States warmed, the East Coast heat wave appeared to have broken, with some areas east of the Mississippi River under heat advisories.
Philadelphia hit 99 degrees (37 degrees Celsius) on Sunday before accounting for humidity. Newark, New Jersey, had its fifth consecutive day of 100 degrees or more, the longest such streak since records began in 1931. Boston also hit 100 degrees, surpassing the previous daily record of 98 degrees (36, 6 Celsius) established in 1933.
Tuesday’s predicted highs in Philadelphia, New York and Boston were all in the mid-80s (about 29 degrees Celsius).
Residents and officials in the North West have been trying to adjust to the likely reality of longer, hotter heat waves after last summer’s deadly ‘heat dome’ weather phenomenon brought record high temperatures and deaths.
In response, the Portland Housing Bureau, which oversees the city’s housing policy, will require newly built subsidized housing to be air-conditioned in the future.
A new Oregon law will require 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 preventing tenants from installing cooling devices in their rental units.
The measures were in response to the heat wave in late June and early July 2021, when around 800 people died in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The temperature soared to 116 degrees F (46.7 C) in Portland and broke heat records in cities and towns across the region. Many of those who died were elderly and lived alone.
While temperatures are not expected to reach this week this week, the expected number of consecutive hot days has raised concerns among officials.
Portland, Oregon, could exceed 100 degrees F (37.8 C) on Tuesday and temperatures over large swathes of western Oregon and Washington are expected to be well above historical averages throughout the week.
“It’s nothing we’ve seen before in terms of magnitude, but the duration of the event is quite unusual,” said John Bumgardner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Portland.
The Portland Office of Emergency Management is opening cooling centers in public buildings and installing misting stations in parks. In Seattle, community centers and libraries will serve as cooling stations.
Multnomah County, which includes Portland, will open four overnight emergency cooling shelters starting Tuesday where people can stay overnight.
Officials hope the awareness efforts will help people facing the greatest heat risks – including the elderly, people living alone, people with disabilities, members of low-income households without air conditioning and people without homes.
Jenny Carver, Multnomah County Emergency Manager for the county’s Department of Social Services, said her work has focused on “ensuring these sites are as low as possible.”
“We just ask people to give a name and we don’t check any identification,” Carver said. “We make available as many resources as possible.”
Nighttime temperatures in the Pacific Northwest cannot drop below the 70s, said Treena Jenson, Portland’s warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
“In urban areas we have the urban heat island effect which tends to keep temperatures warmer for a bit longer and can cause more thermal impacts,” she said.
Claire Rush is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow her on Twitter.