After several fleeting tastes, it appears summer has finally arrived in the Northwest for a lengthy stay.
An extended run of warm, sunny weather settled over the region after (when else?) the Fourth of July and could reach its hottest point so far this weekend. Vancouver's high temperature is expected to top 90 degrees Sunday. That hasn't happened since Sept. 11, almost 10 months ago.
Warmer weather often keeps emergency responders busy, and some local agencies took the forecast as an opportunity to reiterate safety tips for people heading outdoors. Despite warm air temperatures, the Columbia River water is still running at only about 62 degrees, said Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. Smaller rivers are cooler still, he said, and most are flowing higher than normal.
"That's definitely something to be aware of," Bryant said.
Search and rescue calls are also a possibility, said Eric Frank, emergency coordinator for the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency. Whether swimming or not, the agency urged people to share plans with others before heading outside.
The agency offered several other familiar tips. Don't leave pets in the car. Wear sunscreen. Use life jackets. Stay hydrated -- but that doesn't mean reaching for a sugary drink or a beer.
"They don't take the place of using water," Frank said. "The importance is still hydrating with water."
If Vancouver cracks the 90-degree barrier on Sunday — as of Friday, the forecast called for a high of 91 — it will come much sooner than last year. In 2011, the city waited until Aug. 20 to see its first 90-degree day of the year. Nine more followed during the next three weeks.
The city has come close this year. Pearson Field recorded a high of 89 in May before settling into a cooler, wetter-than-usual June.
For now, there's no rain in sight. Forecasters expect sunny skies for at least the next week, with high temperatures landing mostly in the 80s.
In other words, the wait is over.