Excessive heat warning issued for Clark County

By Eric Florip and Paul Suarez

Published:

 

Expect a hot week to get hotter as temperatures close in on triple-digit territory in the next two days.

After more than three years without a 100-degree day, Vancouver could notch its third such scorcher in the past two weeks if forecasts hold up. Highs are predicted to land at or above 100 in Southwest Washington both Thursday, Aug. 16, and Friday, Aug. 17.

WHERE TO COOL OFF

Camas: The community room at Fire Station 42 will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Station 42 is located at 4321 N.W. Parker St. in Camas.

Vancouver: The lobby and game room areas of the following community centers will be open to the public and free:

Firstenburg Community Center, 700 N.E. 136th Ave. Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, Aug. 16, 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

Marshall Community Center and Luepke Senior Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd. Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, Aug. 16, 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Washougal: The Camas-Washougal Fire Department will open a fire hose sprinkler for kids at Hamllik Park, 4285 Addy St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Libraries: Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries are open to the public and air conditioned. Check the FVRL website for hours and addresses.

Wednesday marked the fourth consecutive day above 90 in Vancouver. That streak will reach six days by week’s end, and bring the August total to 10 — matching the number of 90-degree days recorded in Vancouver all of last year.

“We’re making up for lost ground since we had a bit of a slow start this year,” said Clinton Rockey, a meteorologist with the The National Weather Service in Portland.

It’s not unheard of for Vancouver to string together several days of 90-plus temperatures. The city recorded six consecutive days above 90 in September 2011. In 2009, a streak spanning late July and early August covered 10 straight days — a heat wave that included a 108-degree day, Vancouver’s hottest ever recorded.

This week, the mercury will have to reach 100 degrees and then some to rewrite the record books. All-time highs for Aug. 16 and 17 are 101 and 102, respectively, according to the weather service. Both of those marks were set in 1941.

Whatever the outcome, the region’s latest hot spell is likely to send residents looking for relief.

“People without air conditioning are really going to feel the pinch of this heat wave with overnight lows staying above 60,” said Steve Pierce, Columbian weather blogger and president of the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says most heat disorders happen because a victim is overexposed to heat or has over-exercised. Older adults, children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat, according to the agency.

FEMA offered a few tips to stay safe in the heat: People should cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or other covers. It helps if people stay indoors as much as possible, particularly during the warmest part of the day.

Children and pets should not be left in closed vehicles.

Vancouver fire spokesman Capt. Scott Willis said staying hydrated is the most important thing to remember in the heat.

“If you’re thirsty, it’s a little bit too late,” he said.

If people head to the water to cool off they should wear life jackets in the water and stay with a buddy, he said.

The risk for fires is also high with high temperatures and dry winds from the east. Willis said the local fire departments often respond to bark dust fires caused by people throwing cigarettes away. The fires start small but can “take off pretty quick,” especially if conditions are just right, he said. The weather service has issued a “red flag warning” indicating high fire danger for the area.

Clark County Fire District 6 Chief Jerry Green said his organization will wait to see how things play out before deciding if any fire stations will officially be opened up as cooling centers. Turnout has been low in the past, he said, though people are always welcome to stop by the station offices to get out of the heat.

Temperatures are expected to drop back into the 80s on Saturday.