'Heat Dome' Over Pacific Northwest a Sign of the Future, Says Global Warming Expert

As temperatures soared to record highs in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, a global warming expert warned that the "heat dome" over the region was a sign of the future.

Portland broke its all-time heat record on Saturday, reaching 108 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday afternoon. The temperature at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reached 102 F on Saturday, making it the city's second hottest day on record.

But according to the National Weather Service, residents in the region that's accustomed to milder weather should brace themselves for even warmer temperatures in the coming days.

A dangerous and record-breaking heat wave will begin across the Northwest U.S. south into southern California today lingering through this week.
While the heat should abate along the West Coast by midweek, it is expected to persist inland and expand into the Rockies. pic.twitter.com/mUcwxSih6H

— National Weather Service (@NWS) June 26, 2021

"A dangerous and record-breaking heat wave will begin across the Northwest U.S. south into southern California today lingering through this week," the NWS tweeted on Saturday. "While the heat should abate along the West Coast by midweek, it is expected to persist inland and expand into the Rockies."

Both Portland and Seattle are forecast to break their all-time heat records on Sunday and Monday, the NWS said. The highest temperature ever recorded in Seattle was 103 F in 2009.

The extended "heat dome" over the Pacific Northwest is an indication of the future as climate change reshapes weather patterns worldwide, Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington who studies the effects of global warming on public health, told Associated Press.

"We know from evidence around the world that climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves," she said. "We're going to have to get used to this going forward." Ebi has been contacted for additional comment.

The NWS said it has issued excessive heat warnings to "highlight the unprecedented and abnormal temperatures for this part of the country." Residents are advised to find areas with air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and avoid strenuous activities.

In Portland, homeless residents and other vulnerable people headed to cooling centers to seek respite from the heat.

Peter Tiso, who works with Multnomah County's Joint office of Homeless Services, said the city's largest cooling center at The Oregon Convention Center on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard has a capacity for 300 people.

But Tiso told The Oregonian that one will be turned away, and the center also allows pets.

"We don't want anyone to be making the dangerous decision between leaving their pet behind or not," he said.

Meanwhile, Seattle's Office of Emergency Management urged people to cool off in on of 34 cooling centers across the city.

Extreme heat danger sign
Extreme heat danger signage stands as visitors walk along sand dunes at sunset inside Death Valley National Park in June 17, 2021 in Inyo County, California. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images