Northwest heat wave: Worst is over, but it’s still plenty hot

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Sun-baked residents of the Pacific Northwest will get a bit of a break from record-setting heat Friday.

It’s still going to be plenty hot. Temperatures are expected to remain 10 to 15 degrees above normal through the weekend.

Portland, Oregon, on Thursday didn’t quite break its all-time high of 107 degrees (1965 and 1981). But 105 degrees broke a 65-year-old record of 99 for the day, making Thursday the warmest day since 2009.

The forecast for Friday was 96, enough to get this notice from the National Weather Service’s local office: “The hottest part of this heat wave is over. However, it will still be hot enough today for heat-related illnesses to occur, especially considering the cumulative effects of several days of hot weather.”

The heat has made life difficult for people such as Food Front Cooperative Grocery manager Jeff Hough, who told CNN affiliate KPTV that the Portland store’s coolers had been shutting down and it was difficult even to keep the doors closed.

“The front door, the rubber expanded, so it’s not shutting. It got so hot the door won’t shut,” he told the station.

Seattle also broke a daily record. The city reached 94 degrees Thursday, breaking the previous high of 90 from August 3, 1988.

Some 9 million people in the Pacific Northwest remain under heat warnings and advisories.

Smoke from wildfires has spread a haze over the region, making air quality dangerous for people with asthma or breathing problems. Oregon issued an air pollution advisory effective through Tuesday because of the heat and smoke from the fires.

Commuting was expected to improve in Portland. The metro area’s public transit system, TriMet, had service problems because of the heat and computer glitches caused by a system upgrade that went awry, CNN affiliate KATU reported.

TriMet offered free rides Thursday, and MAX light rail trains were slowed because of excessive heat. While slow speeds will continue, fares will be collected Friday.

Uber and Lyft offered discounted rides to city cooling centers, KATU reported.

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A little relief is in sight. The high temperatures in Portland should be 91 on Saturday and 97 on Sunday, CNN meteorologists said. Seattle should see highs of 92 on Friday, 89 on Saturday and 90 on Sunday.

The heat has settled in over a region where many homes don’t have air conditioning. Only one-third of Seattle residents have it, while Portland’s number is about 70%. Portions of Oregon are a good bit lower.

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Many Portlanders took to social media to document some of the strange and outrageous ways they are keeping cool, including sticking their feet in a cooler of ice.

It’s been so hot that Scoop PDX, an ice cream business, shut down its food truck Wednesday and Thursday for worker safety.

“When it’s 105 degrees, you don’t want to go outside to get ice cream,” said Deb Reitenour, the operations manager. “Especially here in the Pacific Northwest, we are not used to the heat. We can handle rain, but we are not so great with this amount of sun with no break.”

The truck will be back in business on Friday, she said.

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