It’s going to be long week for the thousands of households in the U.S. Pacific Northwest without air-conditioning, as temperatures are expected to soar to record levels.
Excessive heat warnings blanket the western third of Northern California, Oregon and Washington state. High temperatures just inland from coastal locations are forecast to soar to between 37 and 43 degrees Celsius.
The National Weather Service slightly dialed back its forecast for Portland to match or break its record high of 41.7 degrees Celsius. Meteorologist David Bishop said the city is now looking at 40 degrees Celsius or 40.5 degrees Celsius on Wednesday and Thursday. Smoke from Canadian wildfires cut the heat but caused a thin haze in the morning sky.
“With little to no cloud cover at night, the higher temperatures kind of hang around a little bit,” Bishop said. That creates a cycle in which “the next day is going to be a little bit warmer because we’re already starting off warmer than the previous day.”
“Widespread record highs are expected Wednesday and Thursday,” the weather service in Seattle predicted, noting that normally mild Seattle could see a high of almost 37.7 degrees Celsius on Thursday. Seattle has posted only three days oF that much heat in the last 123 years.
Seattle does not normally experience such high temperatures, so only a third of homes have air-conditioning units.
“This is definitely not a town that was built on air-conditioning, and usually we don’t need it,” Dana Felton, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle, told The Seattle Times.
The Pacific Northwest’s largest city has opened about 30 cooling centers in air-conditioned libraries and senior centers. The city is also encouraging people to use more than two dozen wading pools and spray parks.