PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Some said, "Bring it." Others took it with grim acceptance. Biologists fretted over the fates of fish, and families fled to fresh water.
Oregon is not used to heat like this.
While the rest of the nation has done a long, slow burn this scorched summer, the Pacific Northwest has managed to slip around that blanket of heat.
The coastal pressure system that keeps Portland and Seattle in a cold, wet cocoon for most of the year went upside-down this week. Instead of moist Pacific Ocean air blowing east, Portlanders got a taste of the blast furnace usually reserved for their Eastern Oregon brethren.
The National Weather Service said it hit 106 degrees Thursday in Tualatin, about 15 miles south of Portland. It wasn't much better in the rest of the Willamette Valley: 96 degrees in Salem, 94 in Eugene and 98 in Roseburg.
Some brave the heat by choice, like Natalie Lamothe, who lives in a basement apartment in Portland.
"I love sitting outside when it's hot. I can sit out there with the tank top — it's fantastic," she said. "I love the heat. I say bring it."
Oregonians can be picky about their temperatures.
"Anything over 75," said Erika Monge, "is a little hot."
Monge was in line to see "Brave" on Thursday at a downtown movie theater, one of the many ways people in the Beaver State chose to dodge the sun.
Ryan Blaszak, who lives in Portland with his wife, Fara, and 3-year-old daughter, has a strict system for when the outdoor temperature gauge exceeds the indoor temperature gauge.
"We're not allowed to open the windows until it gets cooler outside than inside," Fara Blaszak said.
"Even if you're visiting," added her mother, Chan Anaya, who was here from out-of-state Thursday.
But even the best system can be tested in record-breaking heat, so the family spent Thursday at a swimming hole along the Sandy River in Troutdale.
"We decided we needed to go to some kind of water to cool off," Fara Blaszak said.
At night, people without air conditioning have various ways of coping. Some seek refuge in remodeled basements. Some do the best they can with fans. Some just tough it out.
Western Oregon is known more for its seemingly interminable winter rainy season than oppressive summer heat. Many residents don't have air conditioning because they don't need it in any month except July and August, and even those months can be cool.
This year, the National Weather Service put the July high at a jaw-dropping 88 degrees — this, while the rest of the nation alternately baked and roasted under triple-digit temperatures.
The forecast calls for the extreme heat to wane Saturday. Until then, officials are warning people to be careful.
Several senior centers have extended their hours to serve as "cooling centers" for older people who can't otherwise afford to get to a cooler place. Amber Kern Johnson, executive director of the Hollywood Senior Center in northeast Portland, said 15 people took advantage of the extended hours Wednesday. The center planned to show the film "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" to keep people entertained on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Humane Society warned people to protect their pets and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife asked anglers to take special care when catching and releasing fish. Warm water does not hold as much oxygen as cooler water, so fish such as trout and salmon are getting less oxygen while they are being caught, and take more time to recover once released.
Carrie Wolfe sat on a street corner under the scorching sun. Wolfe had a sign that said she was homeless and needed money to stay in a cheap hotel.
"I'm trying to raise money so I don't have to sleep in the heat tonight," she said. "I'm about to give up."
Reporter Steven DuBois can be reached on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pdxdub
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
Check on your family, friends and neighbors
- Check on the elderly, disabled and house-bound to make sure they have enough water, food and are able to keep cool.
Take care of your pets
- Make sure they have enough clean, cool water to drink and a cool place to ride out the heat wave, such as a basement or even a kiddie pool if need be.
Don't leave children or pets in your car
- Drivers are reminded to never leave a child or an animal in a car during a hot day, not even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside a vehicle, even one with windows cracked for ventilation, can reach lethal levels in just a few minutes.
Be careful at river and coastal locations
- Be aware of conditions and take common-sense precautions. The Northwest's snow-fed rivers run swift and cold all year 'round for the most part, sapping strength and snagging swimmers with unseen underwater hazards.
- At the Oregon Coast, the old rule still applies: never turn your back on the ocean. Rip tides and sneaker waves can be deadly.
- And as we've also learned lately in a recent tragedy that took two young lives, currents near waterfalls and rapids can pin people underwater. Officials urge anyone going into the water to use a personal floatation device ("PFD"). PFD use in boats is required by Oregon law.
Keep cool while working in the heat
- OSHA has issued a guide to staying safe if you have to work in the heat (hint: drink a ton of water) and what to look for to avoid sunstroke and other heat-related health problems.
- Multnomah County
- The Wilsonville Public Library will stay open until 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday to give folks a cool space to hang out in.
- For a list of other cooling centers throughout our area
More ways to cool off
- Cool off at a public pool in Portland
- Not near a pool? What about a public fountain?
- Tips to keep cool from PGE (PDF)
- The Washougal Fire Department will be setting up a large water sprinkler to cool off local kids. The fun will take place on Thursday, August 16th and Friday, August 17th from 11:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M. at Hamllik Park located at 4285 Addy Street. Contact Info: Aireanna Baldwin 360-835-2211.
- Portland Parks and Recreation has a long list of cooling tips, pool locations and hours, splash pad locations and more. Click here!
- To provide a cool space for citizens to get out of the heat, the Wilsonville Public Library will be open until 9:00 PM both Thursday and Friday.
- Heat Stroke symptoms and signs
Get the right A/C unit
If you decide to get a window unit to provide air conditioning in your home, experts have devised a chart to help you get the most effective unit for the space you want to keep cool.
Drink lots of water
While a cold beer or soda on a hot day is a delicious treat, health experts warn that the best way to quench your thirst is with plain old water. Alcoholic drinks and soda are actually diuretics - they rob your body of needed water and make you thirstier.
- Gresham - Complete burn ban issued on Aug. 16
- Tualatin Valley Fire District – No backyard burning, no bonfires, no agricultural burns
- Portland Fire & Rescue readies their 'brush units'
- City of Portland - all outdoor burning prohibited.