Heat relief on the way for scorching Pacific Northwest

By Courtney Travis, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Updated Aug. 16, 2021 2:10 AM MDT

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For the second time this summer, a record-challenging heat wave left residents in the Northwest searching for ways to beat the heat. AccuWeather meteorologists say that Mother Nature will finally serve up some relief, in the form of more comfortable conditions, this week.

Much of the region dealt with temperatures that soared into the triple-digits last week, marking the second major heat wave so far this summer

“A shift in the weather pattern will help take heat out to the Plains. This, combined with a dip in the jet stream, will open the door for noticeably cooler conditions by early this week,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

After having temperatures in the upper 90s F and lower 100s F, the cooler air will help to bring temperatures back down closer to normal in the 70s or 80s by Monday or Tuesday afternoon. Overnight low temperatures are also forecast to dip into the 50s, which is much more normal for mid-August.

For Seattle, the coolest days of the week are likely to be Monday and Tuesday, with highs only in the middle 70s, a temperature more akin to late August or early September.

The invasion of cooler air may also come with a brief opportunity for rain for portions of the region. As the jet stream dips southward, some rain showers may reach portions of western Washington on Monday afternoon and evening. While this area is in a drought, extreme and exceptional drought conditions remain farther east across the state, where rainfall is much less likely.

Fortunately, it’s possible the rain holds together enough to bring just enough moisture to eastern Washington for a shower or two. More widespread showers are forecast across northern Idaho and western Montana starting Tuesday afternoon.

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With or without rain, the new air mass will improve air quality throughout the region, at least briefly, as smoke temporarily becomes dispersed thanks to some gusty winds. The winds could be a challenge for firefighters battling ongoing blazes in the area.

There are dozens of large wildfires burning across the northwestern United States.

As the week progresses, temperatures are expected to bounce back closer to normal for most of the Northwest, with afternoon highs in the 80s or lower 90s.

The second major heat wave for the Northwest started earlier last week. Excessive heat watches and warnings went into effect across parts of Oregon and Washington last Tuesday, many of which will remain in place on Sunday. In anticipation of the heat, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency last Tuesday, urging residents to take proactive steps and make a game plan to keep cool throughout the week.

Portland, Oregon, hit 102 on Wednesday, which tied a record for the date last set in 1977. The high temperature of 103 on Thursday fell one degree shy of tying the daily high record of 104 from the same year. In Redmond, Oregon, located about 150 miles southeast of Portland, the Thursday high of 101 broke the previous daily high of 100 from 1977.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, high temperatures remained short of the century mark, but Thursday’s high temperature was only one degree away from the daily high record of 96.

Through the end of last week, temperatures hovered well above normal levels across the area, in the upper 90’s for cities like Medford, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho.

Typical high temperatures for early to mid-August in the Northwest range from the upper 70s to low 80s for places such as Seattle and Portland to the mid-80s to low 90s for inland communities.

This major heat wave was proceeded by another impressive stretch of heat in the Northwest this summer, that broke numerous all-time records in late June.

During the stretch of extreme heat, temperatures soared well into the triple digits across a large part of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle set an all-time record high of 108 F, while Portland baked under an all-time high of 116. Dozens of fatalities were blamed on the extreme heat, while hospitals reported a surge in patients suffering from heat-related illnesses, according to The Associated Press.

Now, experts say that the number of heat-related deaths during the historic June heat wave might be even higher than originally reported, according to the New York Times, which conducted a recent review of mortality data sent in to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“When it’s really hot outside, deaths from heatstroke certainly increase, but deaths from all sorts of other conditions increase as well,” Kate Weinberger, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia told the Times.

When accounting for deaths of people with different underlying illnesses that can be exacerbated by the heat, the number reached around 600 between Oregon and Washington combined, the Times reported. That number is about three times higher than what’s been officially reported between the two states. (Click to Source)

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