For the first time in its recorded history, Portland has hit 95 degrees for seven consecutive days.
The National Weather Service recorded a high of 97 degrees at Portland International Airport shortly after 3 pm Sunday, breaking the previous record for heat duration. Portland had previously recorded six consecutive days of 95 or above in the summers of 1941 and 1981.
Multnomah County officials also announced this afternoon that the medical examiner is investigating the Saturday deaths of two people that may be connected to the weather. That brings the number of possible Portland-area deaths from the heat this week to five.
The extended warmth, while not as intense as the heat dome that baked the city 13 months ago, has taxed the endurance of a city accustomed to mild summers. While 78% of Portland homes have air conditioning—double the percentage in 2011, according to KGW-TV—many of the city’s subsidized, low-income housing properties don’t.
Local authorities pledged last year to rectify that imbalance by installing cooling units—but WW reported last week that less than half of the units promised by three agencies were installed before the heat arrived. The Oregonian reported today that Home Forward, the city’s housing authority, has also lagged in delivering AC units to its tenants.
Meanwhile, many businesses—especially restaurant kitchens—don’t have central air, leaving workers laboring in conditions 10 to 15 degrees hotter than than the weather outside, The New York Times reported last week. Across Portland, restaurant windows are peppered with signs announcing they have reduced menus to keep kitchens cool, closed off outdoor seating, or simply shut down for the week.
Portland’s plight is part of a heat wave broiling the entire Pacific Northwest. Seattle set its own record for heat duration this afternoon, hitting 90 degrees for six days straight. In Southern Oregon, conditions are far more dire: Medford hit 114 degrees on Friday and only saw temperatures fall due to smoke from the massive McKinney Fire on the California border.
Smoke from that wildfire is expected to drift into Portland on Monday, even as the heat begins to abate.
Multnomah County officials said they would keep cooling shelters open until 8 pm Sunday, expecting temperatures to drop tonight.