June 2021 heat wave
June 2021 heat wave

The Earth has found anoth­er way to remind us that it has a fever.

This week­end, tem­per­a­tures across the Pacif­ic North­west will ratch­et up into the triple dig­its, bring­ing heat that is sim­ply unprece­dent­ed for this time of year to pret­ty much every cor­ner of the region. The coast and moun­tains will be a bit cool­er, but even they will see tem­per­a­tures that are warmer than usual.

Sat­ur­day’s high in Red­mond is sup­posed to be 103 degrees Fahren­heit, while Sun­day’s high is slat­ed to be 102 °F. On Mon­day, the high is now fore­cast­ed to be an absolute­ly unheard of 108 °F… hot­ter by sev­er­al degrees than any oth­er day I can remem­ber in the Seat­tle-Red­mond area.

East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton will see sim­i­lar temperatures.

The Willamette Val­ley will heat up even soon­er. Port­land is set to bake at a tem­per­a­ture of 109 °F by Sun­day, while Eugene is set to reach 107 °F.

Pendle­ton is fore­cast­ed to hit 111 °F on Mon­day. Bend and Sun­riv­er will be a lit­tle bit cool­er, at 100 °F on Sun­day and 102 °F on Monday.

The moun­tains will be cool­er. Par­adise will reach a high of 87° F on Sun­day; Hur­ri­cane Ridge will be 80 °F on Sun­day and 81 °F on Monday.

NOAA’s Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice advises:


WHAT: Dan­ger­ous­ly hot con­di­tions with tem­per­a­tures of 98 to
104 expected.

WHERE: In Wash­ing­ton, Sim­coe High­lands, North­west Blue
Moun­tains and East Slopes of the Wash­ing­ton Cas­cades. In
Ore­gon, Ochoco-John Day High­lands, North­ern Blue Moun­tains of
Ore­gon, South­ern Blue Moun­tains of Ore­gon, East Slopes of the
Ore­gon Cas­cades and Wal­lowa County.

WHEN: Until Thurs­day evening.

IMPACTS: Extreme heat will sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the
poten­tial for heat relat­ed ill­ness­es, par­tic­u­lar­ly for those
work­ing or par­tic­i­pat­ing in out­door activities.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: There is some pos­si­bil­i­ty that all time
record high tem­per­a­tures will be reached or exceed­ed during
this heat wave.


Drink plen­ty of flu­ids, stay in an air-con­di­tioned room, stay out
of the sun, and check up on rel­a­tives and neighbors.

Young chil­dren and pets should nev­er be left unat­tend­ed in vehi­cles under any circumstances.

Take extra pre­cau­tions if you work or spend time outside.

When pos­si­ble, resched­ule stren­u­ous activ­i­ties to ear­ly morn­ing or evening. Know the signs and symp­toms of heat exhaus­tion and heat stroke. Wear light­weight and loose fit­ting cloth­ing when pos­si­ble. To reduce risk dur­ing out­door work, the Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion rec­om­mends sched­ul­ing fre­quent rest breaks in shad­ed or air con­di­tioned envi­ron­ments. Any­one over­come by heat should be moved to a cool and shad­ed location.

Heat stroke is an emer­gency! Call 911.

Stay­ing hydrat­ed and stay­ing cool is absolute­ly imper­a­tive in hot weath­er. Drink cool water fre­quent­ly, and lim­it out­side activ­i­ties dur­ing the hottest part of the day, like NWS’ advi­so­ry says. If you must be out­side, don’t be in the direct sun for very long. Wear a hat and sun­glass­es, and apply sunblock.

If you don’t have whole home air con­di­tion­ing, you may want to invest in a portable or win­dow mount­ed air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem. Wire­cut­ter has rec­om­men­da­tions here. You may also want to pick up a Vor­na­do fan — unlike most oth­er fans, Vor­nado’s are engi­neered to pro­vide cool­ing breezes through­out entire rooms instead of just the air­space in front of them. Keep blinds and drapes closed, and avoid using appli­ances that gen­er­ate heat, if possible.

King Coun­ty has more tips here.

Be sure to check up on neigh­bors and fam­i­ly, espe­cial­ly the elder­ly and those with med­ical con­di­tions that make them more vul­ner­a­ble to heat stroke, to see that they’re doing okay. Cool­ing cen­ters will be avail­able for those who need them. If some­one’s home is too hot to safe­ly occu­py, they should be moved!

Final­ly, a few words about fire from Com­mis­sion­er Hilary Franz:

“Wash­ing­ton is expe­ri­enc­ing a his­toric drought that is increas­ing fire dan­ger across our state. We are imple­ment­ing burn restric­tions, but we can’t ful­ly pro­tect our forests or our com­mu­ni­ties with­out the public’s help.”

Fuels are in dri­er con­di­tions this year than what is typ­i­cal of July or August due to a lack of pre­cip­i­ta­tion across the state, and with mod­els pro­ject­ing 110-degree tem­per­a­tures or more in some parts of the state this com­ing week­end, the sit­u­a­tion is ripe for severe fire danger.

“Hot­ter and dri­er weath­er con­di­tions leave us more vul­ner­a­ble to fast-spread­ing fires,” Franz said. “I’m urg­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans this week­end to avoid activ­i­ties that could acci­den­tal­ly spark a wild­fire, espe­cial­ly out­door fires. It could prove disastrous.”

Some tips to stay safe dur­ing this fire sea­son include:

  • Make sure your dirt bikes or ATV’s have oper­at­ing spark arrestors
  • If you’re in an area where camp­fires are per­mit­ted, make sure you’ve doused, stirred and doused your fire again until it is cool to the touch before head­ing home.
  • Peo­ple should use this time at home to pre­pare for wild­fire by cre­at­ing defen­si­ble space.
  • Reduce dry fuels around your home
  • Clean roof tops and gutters
  • Limb up your trees and remove dead branches
  • Pay atten­tion to burn ban restric­tions and keep an eye on your burn pile.

Restric­tions tak­ing effect on Fri­day, June 25 in the fol­low­ing areas:

  • Rule burn­ing (small debris dis­pos­al fires) is NOT allowed in the fol­low­ing FDRA: High­lands and Methow.
  • Camp­fires are NOT allowed except in approved des­ig­nat­ed camp­grounds in the fol­low­ing FDRA: High­lands and Methow.

Fire Dan­ger Rat­ing Areas (FDRA) changes:

  • Fire dan­ger increas­es from mod­er­ate to high in the fol­low­ing FDRA: Chelan, Foothills, High­lands and Low­er Yakima.
  • Fire dan­ger increas­es from high to very high in the fol­low­ing FDRA: Low­er Basin.

The safest thing to do is just not start any fires, peri­od, not even camp­fires in camp­ground fire pits. With tem­per­a­tures in the one hun­dreds, there will be no need to get cozy by a camp­fire dur­ing the next few days.

By look­ing out for each oth­er, we can get through this heat wave.

This is sad­ly a but taste of what we can expect in the years to come due to our fail­ure to address cli­mate dam­age over the past few decades.

Stay safe and stay cool!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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