“It’s unbearable”: the American Pacific Northwest suffocates in the heatwave


June 26 (Reuters) – A historic heat wave swept through the U.S. Pacific Northwest where temperatures hit triple digits on Saturday as local authorities warned residents to take precautions while power companies have asked users to converse energy.

All of Washington and Oregon and parts of Idaho, Wyoming and California were subject to an excessive heat warning as temperatures were expected to rise 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above average in the entire region over the weekend and into next week, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

“This event will likely be one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in recorded history for the Northwest Interior,” the NWS said.

Across the region, dozens of daily high temperature records are expected to be set, with monthly and even absolute records in danger of falling, the service said.

Temperatures in Seattle were expected to reach 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) on Saturday and an all-time high of 106 degrees on Monday. Officials have asked the city’s 725,000 residents to hydrate, keep blinds closed, use fans and visit city cooling centers if needed.

“It’s unbearable there. I decided to run an errand at the post office and ended up bringing a Lyft home. Even with sunscreen, breaks in the shade and light. ‘hydration, I almost passed out,’ a Twitter user who goes by the name “Anne the Noble Land Waffle” said on the social media platform.

Officials in Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes the state’s largest city, Portland, have warned temperatures well above 100 degrees could cause delays on public transportation, straining services emergency medical care and cause power outages.

In a short video posted online, county health worker Dr Jennifer Vines urged residents to go to a cooling center if they do not have air conditioning, warning that the area is exposed to a “potentially fatal” heat.

Pacific Power, which serves 10 states, said in a statement that it had no plans for heat-related service outages but asked customers to use less energy during the heatwave.

Portland General Electric has told the Oregonian it will have about 120 crews working Saturday and Sunday to respond to any outages.

“In the past, comparable to what we would expect to see, our system has worked as expected,” PGE spokesperson John Farmer told the newspaper.

The NWS also warned that dry and windy conditions could also lead to increased fire weather issues until early next week.

The weather service was also due to issue new red flag warnings in California and elsewhere to warn that brutal conditions increase the risk of wildfires.

Wildfires burned more than 17,000 square kilometers of land in 2020, destroying hundreds of California homes during a particularly fierce fire season.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago Editing by Alistair Bell

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