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Pacific Northwest braces for another multiday heat wave

PORTLAND, Ore. — People in the Pacific Northwest braced for another primary, multiday heat wave starting Wednesday, just over a month after record-shattering hot weather killed hundreds of the region’s most vulnerable people when temperatures soared to 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 Celsius). In a “worst-case scenario,” the temperature could reach as high as 111 F (44 C) in some parts of western Oregon by Friday before a weekend cooldown, the National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon, warned this week. It’s more likely temperatures will rise above 100 F (38 C) for three consecutive days, peaking around 105 F (40.5 C) on Thursday.

Meteorologist Tyler Kranz said that those are eye-popping numbers in a usually temperate region and would break some all-time records if the late June heatwave hadn’t done so already. Seattle will be more relaxed than Portland, with temperatures in the mid-90s, but it still has a chance to break records, and many people there, like in Oregon, don’t have air conditioning. We’ll often hear people say, ‘Who cares if it’s 106 or 108? It gets this hot in Arizona all the time.’ Well, people in Arizona have air conditioning, and here in the Pacific Northwest, a lot of people don’t,” Kranz said. “You can’t really compare us to the desert Southwest.”

A statewide helpline will direct callers to the nearest cooling shelter and offer tips on how to stay safe. The back-to-back heatwaves, coupled with a summer that’s been exceptionally warm and dry overall, are pummeling a region where summer highs usually drift into the 70s or 80s. Both the heat and a historic drought across the American West reflect climate change that makes weather more extreme in the historically temperate region.

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