The heat wave has brought some unusual problems to the region, where temperatures are typically low enough year-round that many people don’t have air conditioning in their homes.
The Portland Streetcar, which serves downtown Portland, shut down service Sunday and plans to stay closed until at least Tuesday morning. The service posted a photo of a melted power cable on Sunday to explain the disruption.
The city’s MAX Light Rail Service shut down, too, explaining that high temperatures were straining the power grid and the overhead wires that power its trains.
Communities affected by the heat wave are also dealing with roadways buckling from the heat, making them unsafe to travel on. It also raises the risk of sinkholes that can be caused by thermal expansion, in which concrete or asphalt gets so hot it begins to expand with nowhere to go but up.
The effects on transportation can make it harder for people to seek refuge from the heat at cooling centers or at the homes of friends or relatives who have air conditioning. While about 91% of U.S. homes have air conditioning, just 78% of homes in Portland and 44% of homes in Seattle do.
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