June 26 (Reuters) – A historic heat wave swept across the U.S. Pacific northwest on Saturday, with temperatures plummeting to within three digits as power companies warned users to take precautionary measures to save energy.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said Washington and Oregon and parts of Idaho, Wyoming and California were under high heat warning as temperatures could rise 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above average throughout the region over the weekend and next week.
“This event will be one of the most intense and lasting heat waves in the recorded history of the domestic northwest,” the NWS said.
In the region, dozens of daily high temperatures are expected to be set, with monthly and all-time records at risk of falling, the service said.
In Seattle, temperatures reached 98 Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) on Saturday and 106 degrees on Monday. Authorities there told the city’s 725,000 residents to hydrate, cover blindly, use fans and go to city cooling centers if necessary.
“It was unbearable there. I started running a job at the post office, took an elevator home. Even with sunscreen, shadow breaks and hydration, I almost went out,” goes by a Twitter username “Anne The Noble Land Waffle” said on the social media platform.
Authorities in Multinoma County, Oregon, which includes the state’s largest city, Portland, warned that elevations above 100 degrees could cause public transportation delays, disrupt emergency medical services and cause power outages.
In a short video posted online, County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Wines asked residents to go to an air-conditioning center if there is no air conditioning, warning that the area is for “life-threatening” heat.
Pacific Power, which serves 10 states, said in a statement that it did not anticipate heat-related service disruptions but urged customers to use less energy during heat waves.
Portland General Electric told Oregon that about 120 teams will be working on Saturdays and Sundays.
“In the past, compared to what we expected to see, our system worked as designed,” FGE spokesman John Palmer told the newspaper.
The NWS also warned that dry and windy conditions could lead to fire weather concerns early next week.
The weather service was expected to issue new red flag warnings in California and elsewhere to advise that brutal conditions increase the risk of wildfires.
In 2020, wildfires engulfed 6,500 square miles (17,000 sq km) of land, destroying hundreds of California homes, especially during a severe fire season.
(This story has been updated to correct spelling errors in the first sentence)
Brendan O’Brien report by Chicago Editing by Alistair Bell
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