Seattle is nationally renowned as the city with the best summers but the end of June 2021 and the start of July tell a different story. Seattle’s temperature hit an unprecedented 108F or 42.2C degrees as a record-breaking heatwave continues to scorch the entire Pacific Northwest.
At present, Seattle’s neighborhood streets are totally deserted, cracks are starting to appear on roads, and summer schools are closing as hospital admissions due to heatwave-related cases rise.
The previous highest record was 104 degrees in the summer of 1941. Over the weekend and Monday, the city logged an unprecedented three days of over 100 degrees.
The heatwave is also being felt in other areas of the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures in the city of Portland hit a record high of 115F on Monday afternoon after a sweltering 112 degrees Sunday. The last time Portland saw highs of 107 degrees was way back in the summer of 1981.
There have also been reports of heat-related deaths in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. The casualties are mainly from stifling apartments, overheating cars, workplaces with insufficient air conditioning, older homes, and homeless encampments.
These are areas that face the highest risk of extreme heat as climate change continues to increase normal temperature fluctuations.
Just 16 miles from Seattle in Puget Sound, Washington, Kiro7 News reported that over 30 people had been killed by the heatwave scorching the region.
In Oregon and Washington alone, over 90 deaths have been linked to the temperatures spike. In British Columbia, the chief coroner reported at least 486 deaths in a 5-day period from Friday to Wednesday.
What’s Driving the Temperature Hikes?
The usual suspect is, without doubt, climate change but to be more precise, the record temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are being driven by the emergence of conditions typically associated experienced in Southwest cities such as Arizona and Phoenix.
According to Justin Pullin, a National Weather Service meteorologist, states that the temperature hikes are also due to warm winds from the Cascades getting trapped under the region’s high atmospheric pressure to create a heat-dome effect.
Pullin states that high temperatures of 100s and 110s are common in Phoenix at this time of the year but the weather pattern is expanding further into areas not used to such high temperatures, such as the Northwest.
Does This Mean the End of Seattle’s Fun Summers?
Well, until recently, Seattle summers were renowned nationally in terms of comfortability. Seattle typically had highs of around 70s with blue skies after morning clouds and pleasant breezes in the evenings.
Things have changed dramatically in 2021. The streets, normally filled with happy sounds of children laughing, have gone quiet and deserted. The city neighborhoods are starting to feel like ghost towns with deserted parks and empty trailheads.
The stifling heat blankets the entire city as everyone with a working air conditioner takes refuge indoors. Getting out feels like getting into a sauna. It’s like you have been magically transported to Sacramento overnight.
The good news is that Seattle is known for its resilience. Mother Nature did the same in 1941 but Seattle still bounced back. Climate change is real but there is still hope for the return of the famed Seattle fun summers in the years ahead.