Oregon and Washington residents were already feeling the effects Friday, with normally temperate coastal areas reporting record highs and officials warning of extreme heat and impacts on everything from utilities to bridges.
At Washington’s Port Angeles, the temperature reached 95 degrees Friday, a record high.
Bellingham Airport, which is closer to Vancouver, Canada than Seattle, hit 86 degrees, also the highest ever for the date.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Seattle said a weather balloon launched from Quillayute — close to La Push, of the “Twilight” franchise fame – had reported a freezing level of 18,000 feet.
“In my 22 years at this office, I’ve never seen anything that high,” the agency’s Twitter manager said, writing earlier that evening that high temperatures were expected to be unprecedented.
While Seattle has only hit 100 degrees three times in recorded history, the agency says the city could top triple digits several times and possibly break the all-time mark of 103.
With fewer than half of Pacific Northwest residents having home air conditioning, the intense heat triggered the opening of “cooling centers” and health warnings.
In Portland, the NWS said this weekend would potentially be “the hottest since records began in the late 19th century.”
Oregon meteorologists said highs could soar to 108 degrees, an all-time high.
This weekend, many temperatures in the Pacific Northwest may reach up to 30 degrees above normal, forecasters said.
In response, demand for portable air conditioners and fans has surged and cities have shut down outside COVID-19 vaccination sites and other events.
Many western states have felt the heat over the last couple of weeks, also watching records break.
The NWS has issued excessive heat warnings for nearly the entire Pacific Northwest, northern Great Basin and parts of California and Nevada.
The agency warned of the threat of heat-related health risks and elevated fire concerns, urging people to stay indoors, hydrate and check on vulnerable family, friends and neighbors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.