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Monday, November 28, 2022

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

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PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — Temperatures in Portland, Oregon, could soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) on Tuesday, making it likely the hottest day of a week-long heatwave for the Pacific Northwest region that rarely sees such scorching heat sees it again.

Forecasters issued a warning of extreme heat for parts of Oregon and Washington state. Temperatures can reach the 90s (32 C) in Seattle and 110 F (43.3 C) in eastern parts of Oregon and Washington.

While parts of the inland states often experience high temperatures, those kinds of hot blasts are not nearly as common in Portland and Seattle.

“It’s very, very rare for the Pacific Northwest to have five-day stretches or a week-long stretch above 90 degrees,” said Vivek Shandas, a professor of climate adaptation at Portland State University.

As the U.S. Northwest warmed, the hot spell on the East Coast appeared to have broken, with few areas east of the Mississippi River under heat advisories.

Philadelphia reached 99 degrees (37 Celsius) on Sunday before humidity was taken into account. Newark, New Jersey, had its fifth consecutive day of 100 degrees or higher, the longest streak since records began in 1931. Boston also reached 100 degrees, surpassing the previous 1933 daily record of 98 degrees (36.6 Celsius). .

Tuesday’s predicted highs in Philadelphia, New York and Boston were all in the mid-1980s (about 29 degrees Celsius).

Residents and officials in the Northwest have been trying to adjust to the likely reality of longer, hotter heatwaves after last summer’s deadly “heat dome” weather phenomenon that caused record temperatures and deaths.

In response, the Portland Housing Bureau, which oversees the city’s housing policy, will require new subsidized housing in the future to have air conditioning.

A new Oregon law requires all new homes built after April 2024 to have air conditioning installed in at least one room. In most cases, the law already prohibits landlords from prohibiting tenants from installing refrigeration equipment in their rental units.

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

While temperatures aren’t expected to get as high this week, the expected number of consecutive warm days raised concerns among officials.

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

“It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in terms of its magnitude, but the duration of the event is quite unusual,” said John Bumgardner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Portland office.

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

Multnomah County, which also includes Portland, will open four emergency cooling shelters for people to stay overnight from Tuesday.

Officials hope the outreach efforts will help people who face the greatest heat risks — including the elderly, singles, people with disabilities, members of low-income households without air conditioning and those without housing.

Jenny Carver, Multnomah County Emergency Manager for the Department of County Human Services, said her work has focused on “making sure these locations are as approachable as we can make them.”

“We ask people to just name them and we don’t check identification,” Carver said. “We are making as many resources available as possible.”

Nighttime temperatures in the Pacific Northwest should not be below the 1970s, said Treena Jenson, the Portland warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

“In the urban areas, we have the urban heat island effect that warms up the temperature a bit 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 national, not-for-profit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues. Follow her Twitter.


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