At Least 14 Deaths in Oregon May Be Linked to Heat Wave, Authorities Say

·3-min read
A man sits next to the Salmon Street Springs fountain in downtown Portland, Ore., on Tues., July 26, 2022. Temperatures were expected to reach triple digits as a heat wave that is forecast to last all week continued.
A man sits next to the Salmon Street Springs fountain in downtown Portland, Ore., on Tues., July 26, 2022. Temperatures were expected to reach triple digits as a heat wave that is forecast to last all week continued.

Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP

Authorities in Oregon have received a report that last week's heat wave, which brought record temperatures to the northwest, may be linked to at least 14 deaths.

Over the weekend, both Portland and Seattle, Washington, set records for most consecutive days of high temperatures, according to the Associated Press. Temperatures in Portland rose above 95 degrees Fahrenheit for a seventh consecutive day on Sunday, while Seattle recorded temperatures above 90 degrees for a sixth consecutive day.

Seven potentially heat-related deaths have been recorded in Multnomah County, where Portland is located, according to an Oregon State Police news release obtained by PEOPLE. The most recent fatality in the state was reported on Monday, after the heat advisory was lifted the previous evening.

In the release, officials said that "this designation as a heat-related death is preliminary and further investigation may reveal a cause of death that's unrelated to hyperthermia." That final determination may not come for months.

RELATED: Amid Deadly Heatwave, Al Gore Warns Atmosphere Could 'Get a Lot Worse'

The National Weather Service released an excessive heat warning for the Portland and Seattle regions, which lasted through Sunday evening. On Saturday evening, the NWS shared a map on Twitter that forecasted temperatures in the high 90s and 100s.

One of the deaths in Oregon was that of an "elderly male who died was in his home that had a non-functioning air conditioner," in Clackamas County, the county said in a statement obtained by CNN, though the outlet noted the official cause of death is still under investigation.

Additionally, King County in Washington — where Seattle is located — reported three heat-related deaths between Friday and Sunday, according to a press release issued on Monday. In total, some 13 million people in the Northwest were under "heat alerts" on Sunday, according to CNN.

RELATED: Death Toll in Oregon Heat Wave Climbs to 116 as Officials Call It a 'Mass Casualty Event'

In 2021, more than 100 people in Oregon died as a result of a heat wave that blanketed the region from late June to early July. At the time, officials described the heat wave as a "mass casualty event" due to a "heat dome" phenomenon.

On Monday, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink used similar phrasing in forecasting weather across the country for the week, referring to the heat wave as a "dome of heat."

As of Tuesday, expected high temperatures in the Northwest appeared to have largely lowered into the high 80s and 90s, according to the National Weather Service.

A sign showing that a cooling center at the Charles Jordan Community Center is open is shown in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees F (37.8 C) on Tuesday and wide swaths of western Oregon and Washington are predicted to be well above historic averages throughout the week.
A sign showing that a cooling center at the Charles Jordan Community Center is open is shown in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees F (37.8 C) on Tuesday and wide swaths of western Oregon and Washington are predicted to be well above historic averages throughout the week.

Craig Mitchelldyer/AP Photo

On July 24, more than 90 million Americans were under dangerous weather warnings as temperatures were expected to reach as high as 109 degrees in some parts of the country.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

The National Weather Service (NWS) warned that the heat would "feel extremely oppressive" in the northeast, leading former vice president Al Gore to point out that "the scientists have predicted these extraordinary and catastrophic events for going on decades now," in an appearance on ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Matthew Carr cools off in the Salmon Street Springs fountain before returning to work cleaning up trash on his bicycle in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, July 26, 2022.
Matthew Carr cools off in the Salmon Street Springs fountain before returning to work cleaning up trash on his bicycle in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Craig Mitchelldyer/AP Photo

"And the fact that they were dead right, maybe a little conservative even in their projections, should cause us to pay more careful attention to what they're warning us about now," Gore, 74, told Jonathan Karl.

"They're saying that if we don't stop using our atmosphere as an open sewer, and if we don't stop these heat trapping emissions, things are gonna get a lot worse," Gore said. "More people will be killed and the survival of our civilization is at stake."