A dangerous heatwave has descended on the US Pacific Northwest with triple-digit temperatures expected in some areas over the next week.
Excessive heat warnings and advisories have been issued throughout the region along with parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Southern Plains.
Portland, Oregon, could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday. Both Portland and Seattle, Washington are expected to reach the mid-to-upper 90Fs (32.2C) through Thursday with the possibility of temperature records being broken.
In eastern parts of Oregon and Washington, temperatures could hit 110F (43.3C).
Parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and far-northern California are currently under excessive heat warnings or heat advisories. Temperatures in the region are expected to stay high through the rest of the week.
Cities including Portland and Seattle have opened cooling centres, and the National Weather Service has encouraged people to stay hydrated and limit time outside.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in 25 counties until Sunday to provide more resources for combatting the heat.
Communities in the Pacific Northwest are coming to terms with the new normal of more intense heatwaves. Last summer, a “heat dome” smashed temperature records across the western US and Canada, killing about 800 people. Subsequent scientific analysis discovered that the heatwave was made at least 150 times more likely by the climate crisis.
The impacts of that heatwave were made more intense due to the fact that the region typically has a mild climate, even during the summer, and air conditioning is more rare than in other parts of the US.
This current heatwave in the Pacific Northwest comes on the heels of last week’s heatwave in the northeast US and ongoing high temperatures in the southern Plains.
In the New York metropolitan area, temperatures in Central Park peaked at 95F (35C) while Newark Airport in New Jersey reaching 102F (39C), breaking the daily record. Combined with humidity, heat indexes in much of the region felt over 100F (38C).
In Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, temperatures soared above 100F, reaching 107F (42C) in Tulsa and 109F (43C) in Dallas last Wednesday.
The continued rise in average global temperature will see heatwaves become more common and more intense, says the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading global authority on climate science.
The world has warmed 1.1-1.2C since pre-Industrial times, and is on track to reach 2.7C of warming by the end of the century, according to the Climate Action Tracker, an independent analysis of global climate policies.
As the world approaches 2C, heatwaves that occured once every 10 years will happen about every other year, the IPCC says.
Today, the US federal government launched a website – Heat.gov – designed to give the public and local officials information on fighting the health and economic dangers of extreme heat.