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:
… EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL THURSDAY EVENING …
WHAT: Dangerously hot conditions with temperatures of 98 to
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.
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!