Weekend temperatures may hit mid-90s in Vancouver

City hasn't yet gotten above 89 degrees in 2012

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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It's been almost 11 months since Vancouver last cracked the 90-degree barrier. On Saturday, expect 90 and then some.

Forecasters expect the city's high temperature to top out in the mid-90s on Saturday, possibly reaching 90 degrees again on Sunday. Saturday's forecast was enough for the National Weather Service in Portland to issue an "excessive heat watch" for much of Southwest Washington and western Oregon.

Some areas, particularly south of the Portland-Vancouver area, could flirt with triple-digit temperatures, said Kirsten Elson, a meteorologist with the weather service.

Vancouver's last 90-degree day came on Sept. 11, 2011. So far this year, the city has seen temperatures as high as 89 degrees in May and 88 in July.

This marks the second straight year that the region has made it to August without recording a temperature of at least 90. In 2011, Vancouver didn't see its first day above 90 degrees until Aug. 20.

This Saturday's temperatures may not set any records. The all-time high in Vancouver on Aug. 4 is 99 degrees, set in 1952, said Elson, who lives in the Hockinson area.

Of course, with hot weather comes the risk of heat-related illness and water danger as people head for rivers and lakes to cool off. Local authorities urged residents to stay hydrated -- that means water, not sugary drinks or alcohol -- and follow other familiar tips such as wearing sunscreen and not leaving pets in the car. If heading to water, people should take extra caution and use life jackets, according to the weather service.

The weather service typically issues an excessive heat watch or warning based on the potential for health dangers or deaths, Elson said. That's often relative to norms. And that's why Southwest Washington falls into an excessive heat watch this weekend, while southern Oregon -- expected to top 105 degrees in places -- doesn't.

Southwest Washington's heat wave likely won't last long. Temperatures are expected to drop back into the 70s by next week, according to the weather service.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro;eric.florip@columbian.com.