November 28, 2021

Pacific Northwest swelters in historic heat wave

PORTLAND, Ore. — Government officials, wildlife managers and utility workers across the Pacific Northwest were trying to keep people and animals safe as a historic heat wave scorched the region Saturday.

The heat was expected to break all-time records in cities and towns from eastern Washington state to Portland to southern Oregon, with temperatures in many areas expected to top out up to 30 degrees above normal. It’s a dangerous forecast for a region accustomed to mild weather, and where many people don’t have air conditioning.

The hot weather had berry farmers scrambling to pick crops before they rot on the vine and fisheries managers working to keep endangered sockeye salmon safe from too-warm river water. Stores sold out of portable air conditioners and fans, some hospitals canceled outdoor vaccination clinics, cities opened cooling centers, baseball teams canceled or moved up weekend games, and utilities braced for possible power outages.

In western Washington, morning temperatures felt warmer than they were because of a higher-than-normal dew point, the National Weather Service in Seattle wrote on Twitter. A higher dew point makes the air more muggy or uncomfortable. Seattle was expected to edge above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) over the weekend and in Portland, Oregon, weather forecasters said the thermometer could soar to 108 F (42 C) by Sunday, breaking an all-time record of 107 F (42 C) set in 1981. Unusually hot weather was expected to extend into next week for much of the region.

Seattle has only hit 100 F three times in recorded history, the National Weather Service said, and there was a chance it could eclipse the record of 103 F (39 C) on Monday.

“If you’re keeping a written list of the records that will fall, you might need a few pages by early next week,” NWS Seattle tweeted, as it announced that the city had already tied a record Friday for the highest morning-low temperature.

James Bryant, a Seattle resident, picked up an air conditioner in anticipation of the extreme heat. Most homes in the Northwest’s largest city don’t have air conditioning.

“My house is already hot, and so with the added heat over the next few days, I’ve got kids I got to make sure they don’t get too hot as well,” Bryant said. “It seems to be a trend … So I’m not sure what’s driving it, but it’s not fun that’s for sure.”

Columbia Basin fisheries managers are worried about how the heat wave will affect endangered Snake River sockeye and other species of protected salmon.

State, tribal and federal officials are trying to mitigate rising water temperatures in the lower Snake River, the Lewiston Tribune reported, in part by releasing 42 F (5.56 C) water from Idaho’s Dworshak Reservoir. They began releasing the water earlier this week, hoping to keep the water temperature at the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River at or below 68 F (20 C). Officials fear a repeat of 2015, when water temperatures in Columbia and Snake river reservoirs reached lethal levels for sockeye salmon.

In eastern Washington, berry farmer Jason Morrell said the sun was rapidly drying out his strawberries, leaving them at risk of rotting if they aren’t picked fast. Morrell, the owner of Walters’ Fruit Ranch near Spokane, told television station KREM that normally farmers have about three weeks to get their strawberry crop picked. With Spokane expected to reach 109 F (42.78 C) on Monday, he expects to have just a few days to get the job done.

In Boise, Idaho, city officials warned parents to be wary of hot playground equipment. Slides and other playground toys can get hot enough under the intense summer sun to burn skin in seconds, and Boise’s risk and safety manager Corey Pence told the Idaho Statesman that adults should press the back of a hand to equipment before deciding if it’s cool enough for children to use.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee lifted COVID-19 capacity restrictions on publicly owned or operated and non-profit cooling centers in light of the heat. Capacity is currently limited to 50% until the state fully reopens next Wednesday. And in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown suspended capacity limits for movie theaters and shopping malls — places with air-conditioning — as well as swimming pools ahead of a statewide reopening Wednesday.

The sweltering temperatures expected on the final weekend of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials in Eugene, Oregon, also prompted USA Track and Field to reschedule several weekend events to times earlier in the day to avoid the peak heat.

Roughly 3,000 people signed up to compete in the Ironman race in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Sunday, when temperatures could reach a record 101 F (38 C). The triathlon includes a 2.4-mile (3.9-km) swim, a 112-mile (180-km) bike ride and a marathon run.

The extended “heat dome” was a taste of the future for the Pacific Northwest as climate change reshapes weather patterns worldwide, said Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington who studies global warming and its effects on public health.

“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.

The warm air dries vegetation and soil, making the are more prone to fire, she said.

Oregon was devastated by an unusually intense wildfire season last fall that torched about 1 million acres (404,685 hectares), burned more than 4,000 homes and killed nine people. Several fires are already burning around the Pacific Northwest, and much of the region is already in extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

in Health
Related Posts

NFL pledges to halt ‘race-norming,’ review concussion claims of Black players

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The NFL on Wednesday pledged to halt the use of “race-norming” — which assumed Black players started...

Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open highlights how mental health ranks below physical health

June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka announced that she would withdraw from the French Open after she was fined and threatened...

India battles fatal fungal threat as virus deaths near 300K

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

NEW DELHI — Doctors in India are fighting a fatal fungal infection affecting COVID-19 patients or those who have recovered...

What undecided parents need to know about the COVID vaccine for kids

November 15, 2021

November 15, 2021

Nicole Ellis: That’s right. A lot of parents want to know how the dosage works and whether or not, if...

House GOP leaders condemn Greene over comments equating mask mandates to Holocaust

May 25, 2021

May 25, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders forcefully condemned GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday, calling her comments comparing COVID-19...

Vaccinated lawmakers get to take off their masks in House

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fully vaccinated members of Congress and staffers will no longer have to wear masks on the House...

Scientists hope they’re closing in on a cure for COVID-19

June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

The last time the world needed an antiviral medicine as quickly as possible, Daria Hazuda, vice president of infectious disease...

Novavax data suggests its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

Vaccine maker Novavax said Monday its shot was highly effective against COVID-19 and also protected against variants in a large,...

France legalizes IVF for lesbians and single women

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

PARIS (AP) — France’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday definitively adopted a law that will allow single women and...

Deaths from drug overdoses surge in some Black communities amid COVID-19

June 30, 2021

June 30, 2021

Kanika Turner: Yes, I think what’s driving those numbers is definitely multifactorial, I think a few things on the streets,...

Japan’s vaccine push ahead of Olympics looks to be too late

June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

TOKYO (AP) — It may be too little, too late. That’s the realization sinking in as Japan scrambles to catch...

Examining the American Medical Association’s racist history and its overdue reckoning

May 18, 2021

May 18, 2021

The national calls to action over racial justice have brought new awareness of past injustices in many parts of our...

COVID, police violence took an excessive toll on Black Americans' psyche. Can they heal?

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

COVID-19 has taken a disproportionate physical toll on people of color — especially Black Americans, who are nearly three times...

Hundreds of bodies found buried along Indian riverbanks

May 16, 2021

May 16, 2021

PRAYAGRAJ, India — Police are reaching out to villagers in northern India to investigate the recovery of bodies buried in...

Why you shouldn’t get a COVID antibody test after a vaccine

June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

Many Americans are basking in the warm light of what appears to be the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Millions...