The U.S. Northwest heatwave could have its hottest day on Tuesday

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Temperatures in Portland, Oregon, could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, making it likely the hottest day of a week-long heatwave for the Pacific Northwest region, which rarely gets this hot weather.

Meteorologists issued an excessive heat warning for parts of Oregon and Washington states. Temperatures could reach the 90s (32°C) in Seattle and 110°F (43.3°C) in eastern parts of Oregon and Washington.

While high temperatures are common in the interior of the states, such heat waves do not occur nearly as often in Portland and Seattle.

“A five-day or a one-week extension above 90 degrees is very, very rare in the Pacific Northwest,” said Vivek Shandas, professor of climate adaptation at Portland State University.

As the U.S. Northwest warmed, the east coast heatwave appeared to have broken, with only a few areas east of the Mississippi River under heat warnings.

Philadelphia hit 99 degrees (37 degrees Celsius) on Sunday before humidity was factored in. Newark, New Jersey had its fifth straight day of 100 degrees or more, the longest such streak since records began in 1931. Boston also hit 100 degrees, beating the previous daily record high of 98 degrees (36.6 degrees Celsius) from 1933.

Highs forecast Tuesday 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 heatwaves that followed last summer’s deadly “Heat Dome” weather phenomenon, which resulted in record high temperatures and deaths.

In response, the Portland Housing Bureau, which oversees city housing policy, will require that newly built subsidized housing go forward with air conditioning.

New Oregon law requires all new homes built after April 2024 to have air conditioning installed in at least one room. The law already prohibits landlords from banning tenants from installing refrigerators in their rental units in most cases.

The measures were in response to the heat wave in late June and early July 2021, when about 800 people died in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The temperature rose to 116 degrees F (46.7 C) in Portland, breaking heat records in cities and towns across the region. Many of the dead were old people and lived alone.

While temperatures are not expected to be as high this week, the expected number of consecutive hot days has given officials cause for concern.

Portland, Oregon could top 100 degrees F (37.8 C) on Tuesday, and temperatures in much of western Oregon and Washington are expected to be well above historical averages throughout the week.

“It’s not something we’ve never seen before in terms of magnitude, but the duration of the event is quite unusual,” said John Bumgardner, a weather forecaster with the Portland office of the National Weather Service.

Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management is opening refrigeration centers in public buildings and installing fog stations in parks. In Seattle, community centers and libraries will serve as cooling stations.

Multnomah County, which includes Portland, will open four overnight shelters for people to sleep in, starting Tuesday.

Officials hope the outreach will help people who face the greatest heat risks – including the elderly, those living alone, people with disabilities, members of low-income households without air conditioning and the homeless.

Jenny Carver, Multnomah County emergency manager for the Department of County Human Services, said her work has focused on “ensuring these locations are as accessible as we can make them.”

“We ask people to just give a name, and we don’t check IDs,” Carver said. “We are providing as many resources as we can.”

Nighttime temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are unlikely to fall below the 70s, said Treena Jenson, meteorologist for alert coordination in Portland for the National Weather Service.

“In the urban areas, we have the urban heat island effect, which tends to keep temperatures a little warmer for a little longer and can cause more heat impact,” she said.


Claire Rush is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that brings journalists into local newsrooms to cover undercover topics. keep following her Twitter.

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