Temperature records were shattered in the Pacific Northwest on Sunday, with thermometers in some areas topping all-time highs ― and there are more sweltering days on the way.
In Seattle, temperatures rose to 104 degrees. Portland, Oregon hit 112 degrees. Parts of British Columbia were even hotter, topping out at 116 degrees.
The high temperatures are expected to continue into Monday, which prompted the National Weather Service to issue excessive heat warnings for most of the west coast. More than 25 million people in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Nevada are currently under such warnings. Officials said Idaho could see seven days in a row with temperatures above 100 degrees.
Forecasters also expect more records could fall throughout the week.
“The large-scale weather pattern across the nation is not expected to change appreciably over the next few days, maintaining anomalous weather conditions across many areas,” the National Weather Service said in its forecast discussion on Sunday. “The historic Northwest Heat Wave will continue through much of the upcoming week, with numerous daily, monthly and even all-time records likely to be set.”
Forecasters predicted that Seattle could hit 111 degrees on Monday, raising concerns as many houses in the city don’t have air conditioning. Scientists said the temperatures were “unheard of,” and that the heat was so intense in parts of Washington that asphalt roads began to buckle. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also suspended COVID-19 limits at publicly-run cooling centers so residents could seek refuge if needed.
The oppressive weather is linked to a phenomenon known as a heat dome: an unusual, slow-moving weather pattern that’s parked itself over the Pacific Northwest, stretching from Washington up to British Columbia and over to parts of Idaho.
Scientists have long warned that once-unprecedented temperature spikes will only increase in regularity and severity as climate change continues unabated, spurred by the world’s ongoing reliance on fossil fuels.
In January, NASA said that 2020 had tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, capping the hottest 10-year period in history.
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