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Northwestern US heat wave could have hottest day on Tuesday

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Northwestern US heat wave could have hottest day on Tuesday

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Temperatures in Portland, Ore., could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday in what could be the warmest of a week-long heatwave in the Pacific Northwest. It is rare to see such hot weather in one day.

Forecasters issued overheating warnings for parts of Oregon and Washington state. Temperatures could hit the 90s (32 degrees Celsius) in Seattle and 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Oregon and eastern Washington.

While high temperatures are common in the inland areas of the states, such hot winds are less common in Portland and Seattle.

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

The East Coast’s hot spell appears to be over as the northwestern U.S. heats up, with a few areas east of the Mississippi River under heat warnings.

Philadelphia hit 99 degrees (37 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, before humidity was factored in. Newark, N.J., hit 100 degrees or higher for the fifth day in a row, the longest streak since records began in 1931. Boston also hit 100 degrees, surpassing the daily record of 98 degrees (36.6 degrees Celsius) set in 1933.

Tuesday’s forecast highs for Philadelphia, New York and Boston are in the mid-80s (about 29 degrees Celsius).

After last summer’s deadly “heat dome” weather phenomenon led to record temperatures and deaths, residents and officials in the Northwest have been grappling with the reality of a possible longer, hotter heatwave.

In response, the Portland Housing Authority, which oversees the city’s housing policy, will require new subsidized housing to be air-conditioned in the future.

A new law in Oregon will require all new housing built after April 2024 to have air conditioning in at least one room. In most cases, the law already prohibits landlords from restricting tenants from installing cooling equipment in their rental units.

The measures are in response to a heatwave in late June and early July 2021, when about 800 people died in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Temperatures in Portland soared to 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius), breaking the heat record for towns in the region. Many of the dead were elderly and lived alone.

While temperatures are not expected to be that high this week, the expected streak of hot days has officials concerned.

Temperatures in Portland, Ore., could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) Tuesday, with western Oregon and swathes of Washington expected to be well above the historical average for the week.

“In terms of scale, we’ve never seen this before, but the duration of the event is quite unusual,” said John Bugardner, a meteorologist with the Office of the National Weather Service in Portland.

The Portland Emergency Management Agency is opening cooling centers in public buildings and installing misting stations in parks. In Seattle, community centers and libraries will act as cooling stations.

Multnomah County, which includes Portland, will open four overnight emergency cooling shelters, where people can stay overnight, starting Tuesday.

Officials hope the outreach will help those at greatest risk of heat — including the elderly, people living alone, people with disabilities, members of low-income households without air conditioning and those without housing.

Jenny Carver, emergency manager for the Multnomah County Department of Human Services, said her focus is “making sure the barriers to these sites are as low as possible.”

“We ask people to provide only one name, we don’t check any identification,” Carver said. “We provide as many resources as possible.”

Nighttime temperatures in the Pacific Northwest likely won’t dip below 70 degrees, said Trina Jensen, the National Weather Service’s Portland Warning Coordinator meteorologist.

“In urban areas, we have an urban heat island effect, which tends to keep temperatures in place for longer and potentially cause more thermal impacts,” she said.


Claire Rush is a member of the Associated Press/US State Capitol Journalism Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit, national service program that allows journalists to report on hidden issues in local newsrooms. Follow her on Twitter.

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