Heat Wave! A City Without A/C Pants in Sweaty Fear
Temperatures for Thursday and Friday are forecasted to reach the mid-90s, with temperate Seattle earning an Excessive Heat Warning from the National Weather Service. Saturday will still be in the low 80s (but with a possible thunderstorm), with Sunday dropping back down to the upper 70s, thanks to an invasion of marine air, say the weather diviners at KOMO TV.
Residents of everywhere else in the U.S. can be forgiven for wondering what Seattle’s damage is that two days in the mid-90s (not even upper-) prompts this level of alarm. But just as with snow days, Seattle is not equipped for anything outside of the temperate weather that’s become our brand. Commercial establishments may have air conditioning, but most residential homes don’t. People have to fall back on age-old methods of coping.
The Tacoma newspaper invites its readers to go jump in a lake. MyLocalHealthGuide has a list of precautionary measures to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. KING 5 has a list of cooling centers. The Department of Ecology reminds you to watch out for higher ozone levels that could affect your breathing. The Seattle Times has tips for pets in hot weather.
Since the Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning, as well, you can also be concerned about the risk of fires. We’ve been covering the Taylor Bridge Fire, and meteorologist Cliff Mass suspects the heat wave here will actually help slow the wildfire, by reducing the power of winds caused by east-west temperature differentials. On the other hand, the western side of the Cascades is far from immune to epic wild fires. Mass goes on to say that:
Recently, I read a paper by Hemstrom and Franklin (Quaternary Journal, 1982) in which they talked about the role of big fires at Mount Rainier Park. Looking a tree rings and other evidence, they determined that natural big fires cause trees to be replaced roughly every 430 years in the park. The largest and oldest big fire occurred around 1230 AD and interestingly some of the oldest stands of trees in the the park date to that fire. A place with very old trees is one of my favorite Rainier locations: the Grove of the Patriarchs near Ohanepecosh, which were protected by surrounding water.
That brings to mind another heat wave strategy, which is to head to snowcapped Mount Rainier; there’s not much overnighter room, but the road trip of two to two-and-a-half hours is likely to be made in a car with A/C, so that’s already a win. Don’t have a car? Zipcar offers members 180 free miles (including gas) with its full-day reservations. Be sure to pack mosquito repellent, though. The skeeters are thirsty.
Seattle Metropolitan has an insider’s guide to hiking Rainier, while the Seattle Times directs families to the Glacier Basin Trail. Washington Trails Association lists 178 hikes in the Mount Rainier region. There’s still unmelted snowbanks above 6,000 feet, and nothing quite beats the sensation when that cooled breeze blows across you. Just ask a mountain goat.