Pacific Northwest heat wave shattered temperature records. Is another dangerous weather developing this weekend?

  • Temperatures in states like Oregon, Nevada and Idaho expect above average temperatures this weekend, increasing about 10 degrees above normal.
  • “It’s going to get warm again in the Pacific Northwest, but not as warm as it just was,” said Ryan Adamson, a meteorologist at AccuWeather.
  • States like those who experienced the heat wave in late June have been developing plans to adapt to the rising temperatures due to climate change.

The heat wave that singed the Pacific Northwest with record-breaking temperatures became dangerous to those living in the area. Authorities say hundreds of deaths may ultimately be attributed to the heat that engulfed Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Canada.

The alarming weather, caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, has led to concerns about more heat waves in the region this summer.

Ryan Adamson, a meteorologist at AccuWeather, said what made the heat wave in late June significant is that the temperature continued to rise even after it broke the record high for a day.

“What’s even more impressive is to break the record, and then break it again the next day, and in some cases even break again on third consecutive days,” Adamson said.

The high temperatures were amplified by the heat that lasted through the night. Typically, temperatures will lower to the mid-50s in a place like Portland, Oregon, but there was no break during the evening hours last week. He expects there to be another heat wave in the Southwest later this summer, but not so much for the Pacific Northwest.

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“As far as the Pacific Northwest is concerned, it doesn’t look anything as extreme as what happened at the end of June will occur, but certainly there will be some hot days,” he said.

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Expect high temperatures this weekend but ‘nothing crazy’ 

Temperatures in Northwestern states like Oregon, Nevada and Idaho expect above average temperatures this weekend, increasing about 10 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service. 

As we go into next week, temperatures are expected to lower and level out, according to the National Weather Service. The increased temperatures are caused by a ridge, or an elongated region of high atmospheric pressure, that will start Saturday. As the ridge weakens by mid to late next week, temperatures will slowly start to decrease in the Pacific Northwest.

In Portland, Oregon, temperatures for the following week are expected to be in the upper 80s and low 90s, just about 10 degrees higher than their 80-degree normal temperature for early July. The same trend goes for other cities like Boise, Idaho, which are expected to rise 10 degrees above normal by Sunday and later lower to only 5 degrees above normal towards the end of the week. 

“It’s going to get warm again in the Pacific Northwest, but not as warm as it just was,” said Adamson. “Above normal, but nothing crazy.”

The areas that experienced some of the higher temperatures may have not had enough moisture in the ground for the sun to evaporate, instead directing heat to the ground and air, noted Adamson.

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“When the ground is moist the sun first has to first go into evaporating that moisture out of the ground and then can heat the air, but when the ground is dry, as it is in a lot of the West, the sun just goes directly into heating the ground,” said Adamson.

Adamson said it’s unknown when another dangerous heat wave will arrive. What is certain is that there will be a gradual increase in temperature through the years and more heat waves will come, though it’s unknown how historic they will be.

“Some years are hotter, some years are colder,” he said. “The general, overall trend is a gradual warming. There’s natural variability when it comes to climate so it’s hard to say definitively one way or the other.”

Carlos Ramos hands out bottles of water and sack lunches as he works at a hydration station in front of the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle.

States developing ‘long-term plans’ to adapt to future heat waves

States like those who experienced the heat wave in late June have been developing plans to adapt to the rising temperatures due to climate change.

“Many states have been developing long-term plans for climate adaptation, being really thoughtful about how to have an infrastructure so that different agencies can work together and address climate change,” Erica Fleishman, Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and professor at Oregon State University.

In Oregon, Gov Kate Brown said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the government has been working with health and community partners to help the most vulnerable, offering air conditioners to people with underlying conditions and opening cooling centers.

The growing temperatures and their impact on the community have been a growing issue for health and climate experts. Noah Diffenbaugh, a senior fellow at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and professor at Stanford University, said the increasing temperatures can impact our mental health, physiological health and cause interpersonal conflict.

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“The most direct is through heat stress, the physiological impacts of heat on the human body and particularly hot nights,” Diffenbaugh said. “We’ve certainly transitioned from climate change being a challenge to prepare for in the future, to climate change being a challenge that we’re being impacted by now with the reality that those changes will continue to intensify,”

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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