Over 44 million Americans are facing extreme temperatures as a heat wave continues to envelop the Pacific Northwest. Seattle reported a record high of 94 on Tuesday (July 26), as did the cities of Bellingham and Olympia, where temperatures reached 90 and 97 degrees, respectively.
Residents in Portland, Oregon, had to endure triple digits as the temperature climbed to 102 degrees. With even warmer temperatures in the forecast, Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency.
“With many parts of Oregon facing a high heat wave, it is critical that every level of government has the resources they need to help keep Oregonians safe and healthy,” Governor Brown said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to take proactive steps to keep themselves and their families safe, including drinking plenty of fluids, taking advantage of cooling centers, and checking in on neighbors, friends, and loved ones.”
The heat isn’t expected to break anytime soon. Forecasters said that the high temperatures could stick around for another five to seven days before moving east and bringing the heatwave to the Midwest.
In addition to the extreme heat, residents in Northern California and southern Oregon are dealing with poor air quality due to smoke from the Oak Fire, which has torched over 18,000 acres near Yosemite National Park.
Forecasters are also worried that thunderstorms could spark additional wildfires due to the dry conditions.
“The risk for storms with little rain and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes will begin Wednesday afternoon from Northern California to interior Oregon and will expand eastward through southern Idaho,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.