The mercury soared to 39°C in Portland, Oregon’s largest city, on Tuesday. This was a new record for a July 26, beating the mark set in 2020.
Seattle also set a new daily high of 34.4°C, according to the National Weather Service American. The old mark of 33.3°C was recorded in 2018.
Elsewhere in Washington state, it was 32.2°C and 36.1°C at Bellingham and Olympia respectively, other new records.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency across most of the state. She warned that the heat could cause power outages and transportation problems. No cooling is expected in western Oregon and Washington state before the weekend.
More emergency room visits
Oregon public health officials are reporting an uptick in ER visits due to the heat. Emergency numbers also receive more calls for the same reason.
Oregon public health spokesman Jonathan Modie reported 32 heat-related emergency room visits on Monday, compared to 4 or 5 before the heatwave began.
Portland city leaders have opened air-conditioned shelters in public buildings and installed vaping stations in parks. The city’s public transport company will allow those who need it free travel to the shelters.
Most of the companies responsible for garbage collection in Portland were on the job before 4 a.m. Tuesday morning to reduce their workers’ exposure to heat. Morning collections are expected to continue at least until Friday.
Multnomah County, which includes Portland, planned to open four air-conditioned shelters where people can stay cool overnight. These shelters will be able to accommodate a total of 245 people. However, a spokesperson said that space will be found
for everyone and no one will be denied.
Several libraries have extended their opening hours until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. to allow people to escape the heat.
Leaders and residents in the region have been trying to prepare for longer and more intense heat waves since the
heat dome deadly last summer. In late June and early July 2021, some 800 people lost their lives in British Columbia, Oregon and Washington State during a heat wave that pushed the mercury to at 46.7°C in Portland.
Heat records were broken in several towns in the region. Most of the victims were people who lived alone. The town of Lytton, British Columbia, Canada, was razed to the ground.
Mercury is not expected to reach such highs this week, but the National Weather Service issued an extreme heat warning for large portions of Oregon and Washington state.
Seattle and Portland officials have issued air quality advisories through Saturday as smog levels could be harmful to some individuals.