Dangerous heat has arrived in Washington; highs in the 90s

Jul 6, 2024, 2:30 PM | Updated: 2:42 pm

pedestrian sun glare...

The first heat wave of the year has arrived. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

After a picture-perfect Fourth of July weather wise, heat and sizzling temperatures have arrived and will hold on through the weekend.

Higher pressure aloft offshore is forecast to build as it moves onshore into this weather weekend, bringing the first heat wave of the year. This weekend, cooler onshore breezes from the Pacific Ocean are expected to weaken, permitting temperatures to climb to their highest readings so far this year.

The warming continued Friday with highs into the 80s in many interior locations. By Saturday and Sunday, high temperatures are expected to soar into the mid-80s to the 90s. And there will not be much relief from the day’s heat with low temperatures forecast to drop only into the 60s.

As hot as its been, this weekend heat wave has not eclipsed any records … yet. The region has been here before so far. For instance, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) reached 94 degrees on Saturday in 1960.

However, Sunday offers the best chance of any new high temperature records. The record high at Sea-Tac is 90 set in 2010. For Olympia, it is 95 degrees in 1953, and for Bellingham, the record high is 88 also set in 1953.

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Weekend temperatures in Eastern Washington and the Portland Metro area are forecast to be even hotter with highs exceeding 100 degrees. And for much of the interior of California, the mercury is expected to reach 110 degrees or better.

For those who want to find cooler areas during this period of hot weather, the north interior coastline regions are forecast to reach the mid-70s to mid-80s. Unfortunately, the outer coast will also be quite warm Saturday with highs reaching the mid-80s to lower 90s, cooling about 5 to 10 degrees on Sunday.

Tips to beat, or at least deal with, the heat

If unable to travel to cooler locations, there are some steps to take to be cooler and avoid any heat health related concerns.

  • Seek air conditioned facilities such as shopping malls and theaters. In the 1990s, only about 15 percent of homes had air conditioning. Today, that percentage has risen above 40 percent.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • During the heat of the day, avoid strenuous activities like running or jogging and if working outdoors, take breaks and again drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid leaving children and pets in cars even if for just a few minutes. Temperatures inside a vehicle can soar to well above 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
  • The elderly, the very young and those with heart related medical conditions are most vulnerable to the stress prolonged heat presents. Check on these family members, friends or neighbors to help ensure they are doing okay.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing to help reflect the heat.

Be sure to monitor the latest weather forecast and information about this hot weather. The National Weather Service has a publicly available heat related resource called HeatRisk. This resource is a color-numeric index that shows a forecast threat of heat related impacts. HeatRisk takes into consideration of how unusual the heat is for the time of year, the days of the expected hot weather including not only daytime temperatures, but also temperatures overnight, and the elevated risk of heat related health impacts.

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Area waterways are quite inviting during hot weather. Yet, river, lake and Puget Sound water temperatures are still cold. Lake Union and Lake Washington for instance have surface water temperatures in the 60s, but just a few feet below, it is only in the 50s. Always be sure to wear a properly fitted life jacket to avoid falling into the cold water and suffering cold water shock, a leading cause of drownings.

Independence Day also means fireworks. Unfortunately, much of Western Washington remains in moderate drought conditions and many locations are as much as four inches of rain below average for the year thus far. And now hot and dry conditions are here. Light fuels like grasses and scrubs are dry and ready to burn. If using fireworks, be sure to have buckets of water and a connected hose ready to use if a fire starts. The best choice to enjoy fireworks is to visit one of the many public fireworks displays.

If camping, be sure the campfire is cold before leaving the site. Wildfire season is here and there have already been a number of fire starts in the region. The hot dry weather is going to simply amplify wildfire potential.

In addition, some counties have initiated outdoor burn bans. Check with your local fire districts to learn if an outdoor burn ban is in place in your area.

The warm dry weather is forecast to continue well into next week though not quite as hot. Renewed onshore breezes from the ocean are expected to ease temperatures below 90 degrees starting on Monday. Yet, the outlook through at the middle of the month extends the ongoing warm dry conditions.

Ted Buehner is the KIRO Newsradio meteorologist. You can read more of Ted’s stories here and follow him on X.

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