People in the American Northwest are asking others to refrain from calling them “weather wimps.”
It’s so hot in Seattle that even those who sell ice cream are closing their doors. Roads are being closed because the asphalt is cracking and buckling.
In Seattle, on America’s northwest Pacific coast, people generally say they have two types of weather: One is rain. The other is that it looks like it might rain soon.
Some in the city wittily call June “Juneuary” because it tends to be so cold. These days, they are dreaming of the cool drizzle that usually marks this time of year. Instead they’ve gotten a hailstorm of broken heat records. On Monday, it was 107 in the city.
Closed Swimming Pools
Monday, the heat hung heavily over Seattle. Stores and restaurants closed, including ice cream shops, which otherwise would have had good business in the heat. It was too hot for the employees.
One public pool had to give up and close. The surface around the pool was too hot to walk on.
Public “cooling centers” have been opened at multiple locations to provide relief for vulnerable groups.
Police reported on Twitter that a highway near the Canadian border was closed on Monday. The asphalt had buckled and cracked in the intense heat.
Not “Weather Wimps”
The Seattle Times is full of tips and advice about how to cope with the extreme temperatures. They are also asking those who live in warmer parts of the country to refrain from making fun of them: “We aren’t weather wimps. Seattle just isn’t prepared for deep heat. Why would it be?” The newspaper reports that only 44% of homes in Seattle have air conditioning. It’s the least air-conditioned metro area in the U.S.
Justin Shaw points out that on Monday it was warmer in Seattle than it has ever been in cities like New York, Washington and Atlanta. He has a local weather blog.
What’s the Prognosis?
The weather forecast going forward looks a little bit better for those living along the coast. In Seattle, the temperatures will sink to around 85 in the coming days. But a bit further inland, the heat continues. In Montana and Idaho, it will still be around 104 in the shade.
“Hell on earth”
The heat wave is a consequence of several phenomena. A sort of “heat dome” has been created over the area.
Climate scientists don’t believe the heat wave itself was caused by climate change. However, it has likely been worse because of it. Zeke Hausfather with Berkeley Earth says that according to The Associated Press it has become approximately 1.7 degrees warmer in the area in the last 50 years.
“In a world without climate change, this still would have been a really extreme heatwave. This is worse than the same event would have been 50 years ago …” he says.
The Los Angeles Times uses harsher language. The newspaper writes in an editorial: “Record-setting heat wave shows that climate change is creating hell on Earth.”
Biden to Hold Meeting on Wednesday
This heat wave is not the first this year. Also, many places in the western states have experienced drought and forest fires in the last few years. President Joe Biden has called on governors, cabinet secretaries and individuals from the private sector to meet on Wednesday. They are going to discuss strengthening disaster preparedness in the area.
Last year, over 15,000 square miles of wilderness burned, nearly equaling the record from 2015. The area corresponds to around one-eighth of mainland Norway.
The fear is that this heat wave is laying the groundwork for an even worse fire year.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked on Monday what Biden would say to those who claim he isn’t doing enough in the fight against climate change. She pointed to Wednesday’s meeting. She also believes that a new package calling for investment in infrastructure is a step in the right direction. “The president is absolutely committed to addressing climate. It is one of the four crises he’s identified as central to his presidency,” Psaki said.