Heatwave Expected in Northwest Oregon, Southwest Washington

A tree stump smolders in the aftermath of the Bootleg Fire, in Sycan Estates, Oregon, Monday. (Reuters/Mathieu Lewis-Rolland)

Heat and wildfire danger is expected starting Thursday throughout northwestern Oregon, including Portland, and southwest Washington, weather officials said.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory from 11 a.m. Thursday through 11 p.m. Saturday with temperatures nearing or surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).

National Weather Service meteorologist John Bumgardner told the Statesman Journal it will be hot, but temperatures are not expected to reach levels experienced last month during the deadly heat wave. More than 110 people died from heat-related causes in the June heat wave, with the majority living in Multnomah County, which includes Portland. Many were elderly and living alone without air conditioning.

Multnomah County officials plan to open five cooling centers and 15 libraries with extended hours, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The potential for lightning in a series of thunderstorms is also expected Thursday afternoon and evening, and possibly into Friday.

A fire weather watch has been issued because of the potential for “abundant lightning and critically dry fuels [that] may result in numerous fire starts,” the weather agency said. “Thunderstorm outflow winds may result in erratic fire spread.”

Bumgardner said lightning will be possible along the Cascade Crest — from Detroit to Santiam Pass and into central Oregon.

Extreme conditions like these are often because of a combination of unusual random, short-term and natural weather patterns heightened by long-term, human-caused climate change.

Scientists have long warned that the weather will get wilder as the world warms. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years. Special calculations are needed to determine how much global warming is to blame, if at all, for a single extreme weather event.

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