The Pacific Northwest, known for its gloomy, wet weather much of the year, is seeing summer-like weather as a high-pressure system has pumped up temperatures and alerted first responders to fires.
Multiple high temperature records were broken Saturday in the Seattle area, where Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hit a record high for the date of 77.16 degrees above normal, and Quillayute Airport on Washington’s northern coast hit a record 83, federal officials said. predictors .
The high-pressure ridge pushes the air west, resulting in dry offshore winds that heat up as they descend mountain slopes and the air is compressed.
A line of red flag warnings stretches along the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, from California’s border with Oregon to the U.S. border with Canada, according to the National Weather Service. The warnings mean that fire could quickly lead to catastrophic wildfires.
In the case of the Pacific Northwest, no major new fires have been attributed to this heat wave by the federal fire department, but 18 major wildfires that burned more than 370,000 acres were still active, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The Cedar Creek Fire, about 150 miles south of Portland, Oregon, started from lightning on Aug. 1 and was still burning Saturday. It burned 123,861 acres and was contained 40% amid “critical fire hazards,” according to a US Forest Service update.
“A lot of smoke from wildfires affects air quality in the region,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Michalski.
Tacoma, Washington, was one of several map points in the Pacific Northwest where air quality was deemed “unhealthy” by AirNow.gov, a partnership of federal agencies including federal forecasters and health officials.
Unhealthy air was expected for the Puget Sound region the whole weekend.
On Cheeka Peak, a mountain peak in the far northwest corner of Washington state, the air Saturday was “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” the partnership said.
The weather forecast was largely the same, with the National Weather Service office in Portland, Oregon forecasting warm, dry and windy conditions, with gusts of 20 miles per hour likely, though Sunday.
A trough in the Pacific could bring a chance of drizzle to the Portland area Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday could return summer-like weather.
Traditionally, wet weather from the coast was possible for the Pacific Northwest next weekend, said Michalski, who is based on the Seattle forecasting bureau.