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In The Pacific Northwest, A Heat Wave Kills And Sets Records.
Extreme Weather

In The Pacific Northwest, A Heat Wave Kills And Sets Records.


SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A dozen deaths in Washington and Oregon may have been caused by an intense heat wave that brought scorching temperatures to the Northwest and forced one power utility to impose rolling blackouts due to high demand.

The dangerous weather that had given Seattle and Portland consecutive days of record high temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) eased in those cities on Tuesday, but temperatures soared in inland Spokane, towns in eastern Oregon, and cities in Idaho.

The temperature in Spokane reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service, the highest ever recorded there.

Avista Utilities customers in Spokane lost power on Monday, and the company said more planned outages began on Tuesday afternoon in the city of about 220,000 people.

“We try to keep outages to one hour per customer,” said Heather Rosentrater, Avista’s vice president of energy delivery.

She said about 2,400 customers were without power as of shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, mostly on the city's north side, and that those customers had been notified about the planned outage. She said about 21,000 customers were notified about the planned outage Tuesday morning.

The outages, according to Rosentrater, were caused by a distribution issue rather than a lack of electricity in the system.

Meanwhile, authorities have stated that several recent deaths in the area may have been caused by the extreme heat.

According to the King County Medical Examiner's office, two people died of hyperthermia, which means their bodies became dangerously overheated; they were a 65-year-old Seattle woman and a 68-year-old Enumclaw, Washington, woman, according to the Seattle Times.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office told the Daily Herald in Everett, Washington, on Tuesday that three men, ages 51, 75, and 77, died in their homes after succumbing to heat stroke. They were from Everett, Granite Falls, and Marysville.

The heat may have killed a nursery worker in Oregon, according to the state's worker safety agency, Oregon OSHA, on Tuesday.

According to Andres Pablo Lucas, owner of Brother Farm Labor Contractor, which provided workers for the nursery, including the man who died, the man who died was from Guatemala and had apparently only recently arrived in the United States.

The man, whose name was not released, died on Saturday at Ernst Nursery and Farms, a wholesale supplier in St. Paul, 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Salem, as a result of heat exhaustion, according to an Oregon OSHA database.

“The employee was working on a crew moving irrigation lines when he was discovered unresponsive in the field at the end of the shift,” agency spokesman Aaron Corvin said.

Pablo Lucas, speaking in Spanish, said that when workers gathered shortly after noon Saturday, they noticed one of them was missing and began searching for him, eventually finding his body. Pablo Lucas said he didn't know the man's name.

According to Pablo Lucas, laborers frequently have the option of starting work near sunrise when it is cooler and ending around midday, but some prefer to stay regardless of the heat.

“People want to work, they want to fight to succeed,” he explained, “so they stay.”

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Heat may have contributed to four deaths in Bremerton, Washington, according to city officials, but Bremerton's medical officer, Vince Hlavaty, told the Kitsap Sun that firefighters cannot say definitively whether the heat was the cause of death.

Authorities in Bend, Oregon, said the deaths of two homeless people in extreme heat could have been caused by the weather.

The United Farm Workers has urged Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to issue emergency heat standards immediately to protect all farm and other outdoor workers in the state's agricultural sector.

On Tuesday, several cities in Idaho topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius), with Lewiston reaching 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.1 degrees Celsius).

President Joe Biden mentioned the Northwest during an infrastructure speech in Wisconsin as he spoke about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather.

“Anybody ever believe you’d turn on the news and see it’s 116 degrees in Portland, Oregon? 116 degrees,” the president joked, addressing those who question the reality of climate change. “But don’t worry, there is no global warming because it’s just a figment of our imaginations.”

The heat wave was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest, and it was exacerbated by human-caused climate change, which is increasing the likelihood and intensity of such extreme weather events.

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From Salem, Oregon, Selsky contributed.

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