PORTLAND, Ore. — Records for heat wave duration could be broken in the Pacific Northwest this week and authorities are increasing capacity at some cooling centers as triple-digit temperatures are expected to extend into the weekend. end.
“For the next few days through Saturday, we’re going to be within 100 degrees every day,” said Colby Neuman, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon.
Temperatures in Oregon’s largest city are expected to climb another 101 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday. On Tuesday, Portland set a daily record of 102 F.
Seattle also reported a new daily high of 94 F on Tuesday. The heat wave is also expected to last through Saturday in western Washington.
The National Weather Service has extended excessive heat warnings from Thursday through Saturday night.
The length of the heat wave puts Portland “in the running” for matching its longest six-day streak in a row of 95 F or higher, Neuman said.
Climate change is fueling longer heat waves in the Pacific Northwest, a region where weeklong heat spells were historically rare, climate experts say.
On Wednesday, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office said at least two people had died of suspected hyperthermia during the heat wave, KGW reported. A death occurred in Portland on Monday, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office said. The state medical examiner’s office said the heat-related death designation was preliminary and could change after further investigation.
Heat-related 911 calls in Portland have tripled in recent days, from about eight calls on Sunday to 28 calls on Tuesday, said Dan Douthit, spokesman for the city’s Office of Emergency Management. Most of the calls involved a medical response, Douthit added.
Multnomah County said more people went to the emergency room with heat-related symptoms.
ER visits “have remained elevated since Sunday,” the county said in a statement. “Over the past three days, hospitals have treated 13 people for heat-related illnesses, when they would normally expect to see two or three.”
People working or exercising outdoors, as well as the elderly, were among those taken to the emergency room, the statement added.
People in Portland’s iconic food cart industry are among those working outdoors. Many food trucks closed as the sidewalks sizzled.
Rico Loverde, the chef and owner of the Monster Smash Burgers food cart, said the temperature inside his cart was typically 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside, making it 120 F inside his little one. business this week.
Loverde said he shuts down if he goes over 95 F because his fridges overheat and shut down. Last week, even with slightly cooler temperatures in the mid-90s, Loverde suffered heat stroke from working in his cart for hours, he said.
“It hurts; it has to hurt. I always pay my employees when we’re closed like this because they have to pay the bills too, but for a small business that’s not good,” he said. said Tuesday.
Multnomah County said its four emergency overnight cooling shelters were half full on Tuesday with 130 people staying overnight. But anticipating increased demand, officials decided to increase the capacity of the four sites to accommodate nearly 300 people.
William Nonluecha, who lives in a tent in Portland, sought shade with friends as temperatures soared on Wednesday afternoon. Nonluecha was less than a minute’s walk from a cooling shelter set up by local authorities, but did not know 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 transitional accommodation, said during a record heat wave last summer that a man in a tent near his died of heat exhaustion and no one noticed. He is afraid that the same thing will happen this summer.
“He was in his tent for about a week and the smell was how they knew he was dead,” Taylor said. “It’s sad.”
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.
About 800 people died in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia during this heat wave, which hit in late June and early July. The temperature at the time hit a record high of 116 F in Portland and broke heat records in cities and towns across the region. Many of those who died were older and lived alone.
Other parts of the United States often experience temperatures of 100 degrees. But in areas like the Pacific Northwest, people aren’t as acclimatized to heat and are more sensitive to it, said Craig Crandall, professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. .
“There is a much greater risk for people in areas such as the North West to have higher cases of heat-related injuries and deaths,” Crandall said.
Seattle and Portland officials issued air quality advisories on Tuesday that are expected to last through Saturday, warning that smog could reach levels that could be unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Further south, the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for western Nevada and northeastern California on Wednesday, which is expected to last from late Thursday morning through Saturday evening. Across the region, near-record daytime temperatures will range from 99 to 104 degrees F.