Where to Find a Cooling Shelter During Sweltering Temperatures This Week

Nights will be unusually warm, meaning little reprieve from the heat.

After issuing emergency declarations ahead of this week’s long stretch of high temperatures, Multnomah County and the city of Portland have announced the locations of five cooling centers set to open Tuesday.

Four overnight cooling shelters, spread across Portland, will open Tuesday at 2 pm. One daytime cooling center in Old Town will be open Tuesday from 2 to 10 pm.

The announcement of the cooling center locations comes on the heels of the National Weather Service issuing an excessive heat warning for the Portland metro area from Monday through Thursday night. The announcement warns of “dangerously hot conditions with temperatures of 98 to 103″ expected to peak Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition to air conditioning, all the cooling centers will provide some form of food and water, says Denis Theriault, spokesman for Multnomah County.

“Shelters will also offer meals and water. Daytime centers will also provide snacks and water,” Theriault wrote in an email to WW. Both centers are pet friendly.

As WW reported last week, the impending heat wave will produce temperatures well short of last summer’s 116-degree highs, but the duration of this week’s heat wave will likely result in a string of warm nights, especially dangerous for those living in the “heat islands” that predominantly affect East Portland. The absence of nighttime cooling poses an additional danger for those without air conditioning, a key factor in the deaths of 69 Portlanders during last summer’s heat wave.

“This heat wave is going to last for several days. And with little relief at night, the risks are going to be compounded,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said in an announcement released Sunday. “We’ve been preparing for this event, getting cooling spaces ready and getting supplies, including cooling units and survival gear, to those most in need.

The county also announced that three libraries—its Central, Gresham, and Holgate locations—will offer extended hours Tuesday through Thursday to support those who need relief from the heat.

One looming threat to to libraries’ role as refuges from the heat—the Aug. 1 closure of the Central Library downtown. The building not only offers respite from rising temperatures but also serves as the largest source of free internet access in Portland.

Closing the building for renovations during August, which along with July is one of the hottest months of the year, could put people at risk. Library spokesman Shawn Cunningham acknowledges the timing isn’t ideal but says that officials wanted to get the renovations, which include ADA access ramp on the south side, outdoor terraces and new restrooms on the ground floor, done as quickly as possible.

“There’s no ‘good’ three-month window for a closure,” Cunningham says. “The chosen time period allows for crews to begin excavation during the dry months and return the building to service as cold weather season approaches.”

Misting stations, swimming pools, and community centers offer alternative options for cooling off, as shown in this interactive map.

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