Hot and dry conditions continued in western Washington and across the state this week as higher temperatures prompted the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue an excessive heat warning.
The warning was in effect from Tuesday and stretched until Friday evening, with temperatures in the mid-to-high 90s. No rain was predicted through at least Monday.
According to Art Gabel, with the Seattle branch of the NWS, if the dry spell continues through next Wednesday, it will break the previous record of 51 days without rain, which was set in 1951.
A high pressure system in the region has blocked cooler weather patterns from the north, he said.
Gabel also said summer came early this year following a wet winter.
The final weeks of July and early weeks of August are generally when the region sees the highest temperatures, he said. The highest recorded temperature in the area was set in 2009 at 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Even though it is kind of unusual to get close to triple digits, it does kind of happen,” Gabel said.
Thursday was expected to be the hottest day, with temperatures cooling off into the 80s over the weekend.
Mike Hilley, public information officer for the Redmond Fire Department, said neighbors should look out for each other during hot weather.
“A lot of senior people that live by themselves, a lot of times they don’t have air conditioning,” he said. “… We really urge people to sort of check on their neighbors.”
Children are also more susceptible to the heat, but may not show signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke before it begins.
These two conditions are the most concerning for Hilley as the temperatures increase.
Heat exhaustion is marked by heavy sweating and possibly light confusion and should be treated by hydrating the victim and cooling them off with ice packs, moist towels and getting them out of the heat.
If left untreated, it can develop into heat stroke where the victim stops sweating and loses control of their internal cooling, Hilley said. Someone suffering a heat stroke could also go pale, breathe rapidly and lose consciousness.
Heat stroke can be deadly, so Hilley urged people to watch for symptoms in each other.
Hotter weather also poses an increased risk for fires.
“We are definitely moving into a much higher fire watch for the region and it’s drying out really quick,” he said.
A burn ban is in effect in the county, but fires are becoming more common in road medians and areas with tall grass.
A fire last week in the 13300 block of 242nd Avenue Northeast in Redmond torched around a half-acre before being knocked down by firefighters.
Hilley urged anyone who sees smoke to report it to their local fire department.
General smoke in the air which became noticeable Tuesday evening is coming down from large wildfires burning in the Canadian province of British Columiba (B.C.), according to the WASmoke blog.
A slew of fires is burning in the central portion of the province, as well as many others closer to the Washington and Idaho borders.
Air quality monitors available on the blog also showed degraded air quality in the Seattle area, with a moderate air quality rating.
Moderate air quality, according to the state Ecology department, means people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, lung or heart disease or infections should do activities outside that take less effort.
If the air quality continues to degrade and is increased to an ‘unhealthy’ rating, people with these conditions should limit their time spent outdoors.
As for the heat, the City of Redmond has two cooling centers available to the public:
The Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center is located at 16600 N.E. 80th St. and is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The Redmond Senior Center is located at 8703 160th Ave. N.E. and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday.
For more information on excessive heat safety, visit www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/preparedness/beattheheat.