Editor’s note: This is a live account of heat wave updates from Saturday, June 26, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the weather.
Heat records are likely to be broken throughout the Puget Sound over the weekend, with temperatures predicted to reach beyond 100 degrees.
Meteorologists have called the weekend forecast an “unprecedented event.” The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for most of Western Washington, effective through Monday evening.
The so-called heat dome — a heat wave that sits over one region — has stretched across the western United States for nearly two weeks, setting record temperatures from Omaha to Death Valley.
Throughout Saturday, on this page, we’ll post updates about rising temperatures in Seattle and throughout the Pacific Northwest, how residents are coping, and resources provided for those trying to beat the heat.
How are you staying cool as Washington faces scorching temperatures?
Weekend temperatures are expected to reach record-breaking highs across the region. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat watches and warnings throughout the West. Meteorologists say the heat wave could last through early next week, upending life for many in Washington.
With triple-digit temperatures in the forecast, we want to hear how you are staying cool. What questions do you have for us about the heat? What would you like to see in our coverage of these historic temperatures?
Submit your response here.
Light rail trains operating at reduced speeds because of hot tracks
Light-rail trains continue to operate at reduced speeds because of excessive heat on the tracks, according to Sound Transit.
The agency anticipates potential delays for the next several days because of the heat wave, and temperatures that may surpass 100 degrees.
Normal speeds will resume when temperatures drop, the agency said.
10 cooling things to eat when it’s way too hot in Seattle
While we’re all lying in front of our fans trying not to dwell on climate change, we’ve still got to feed ourselves. Here are (approximately) 10 things to eat (plus some beverages!) that can help make heat-wave life significantly less hellish.
- Sandwiches! Specifically, banh mi, with their airy baguettes and slight spicy bite, make perfect, easy hot-weather eating. My favorite right now is the tofu version from Thanh Son Tofu and Bakery in Little Saigon, and here’s my friend Tan Vinh’s list with that plus 11 more recommendations in the Seattle area. Don’t fret overmuch about where you go, though; in this heat, the banh mi place closest to your face might just be the greatest one right now.
- How about the platonic ideal of a salad? While eating the green dream that is the salade verte from Le Pichet downtown or its little sister Cafe Presse on First Hill and drinking chilled rosé, all will be well, at least for the moment. Also: the sardine sandwich, with more crisp Bibb lettuce and lots of mayo — get it! (And all of it is also available for takeout.)
- Speaking of Cafe Presse to go, it’s on our recent list of 11 special picnics from top Seattle restaurants, along with Jerk Shack, Spice Waala, Sushi Kappo Tamura and more. It’s too hot to think, so they’ve done it for you (and some offer wine, beer or cocktails to go, too).
Read the full food list here.
—Bethany Jean Clement
Sea-Tac temperature reaches 99 degrees — and it’s still climbing
The temperature at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reached 99 degrees around 3 p.m., and meteorologists say it could still climb to 100.
“We had already broken our record for hottest June day earlier, but we still have some leeway to reach 100 degrees,” National Weather Service meteorologist Maddie Kristell said.
Around the Puget Sound region, some sites have already surpassed the triple-digit mark. Unofficial reports showed 100 degree temperatures in Issaquah, Bellevue and Spanaway, Pierce County, 103 degrees in Carnation, King County, and 104 degrees in Maltby, Snohomish County, as of 3 p.m.
Sunday and Monday are still forecast to be the hottest days, Kristell said. By Sunday afternoon, temperatures could get to 106 degrees around Sea-Tac.
“Monday clocks in a bit hotter,” Kristell said. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but anywhere from 108 to 110 degrees is not out of the question.”
Kristell described the heat wave as “something new to forecast,” because the area typically doesn’t see temperatures anywhere near what it’s been.
“It’s difficult to pin an event down like this, when we don’t have a previous event to compare it to.”
Heat impacts health of those living outside
Anthony was baking in the heat as he stood next to an Interstate 5 off-ramp in North Seattle with a sign asking for spare cash and other help. Housed but mostly without work since COVID-19 hit, the 55-year-old was struggling with the sun beating down.
He’d been roadside for about an hour at 2:30pm. “I won’t last much longer,” he said. “I’m worried about my health.”
Behind some nearby bushes, Jude rested under a tarp where he stays with some other people. Someone thoughtful had stopped by earlier to drop off a case of water bottles. What people living outside in the heat could use more of are places to shower, he said.
Related: If you’re homeless in Seattle, here are places to escape the heat
Seattle hits record high of 97 degrees
It’s official: Saturday is the hottest June day on record in Seattle.
The National Weather Service reported 97 degrees at 2:33 p.m., surpassing the previous June record of 96 degrees, which was set on June 25, 2017.
Looking for an air conditioner? Expect “nothing, nothing, nothing”
Helen Stone was feeling desperate Saturday afternoon when she showed up to the Tukwila Lowe’s, having phoned a dozen other stores looking for an air conditioner.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” is what the 74-year-old Tukwila resident heard on the phone, and nothing is also what greeted her at Lowe’s, where the shelves that normally hold fans and air conditioners were empty.
Her last idea: ordering a $600 unit from Amazon. The window unit Stone has at home only cools her kitchen.
“None of us slept with covers last night,” said Christine McDonald, shopping with her.
Residents flock to busy beaches
The parking lot at Pritchard Beach in South Seattle was full by 1 p.m. Saturday, but Rayson Morena snagged a spot in the morning with his family. They brought a home-cooked picnic lunch and enough balls and toys to last the whole day.
“You can’t stay at home” in this weather, the 39-year-old said, hanging in the shade with his 22-month-old daughter Raelanie.
What he’s not looking forward to is Monday, when the temperature is expected to spike even higher.
Down at Chinook Beach Park, a sliver of rocky Lake Washington shoreline in Rainier Beach, Callen Duy grilled chicken and feta sausages in the shade while blasting house music from a portable speaker.
“You have to get here early, secure a spot,” the 30-year-old said, waiting for friends to arrive to try out his unicorn floatable.
Heat forecast leaves Washington farmers worried about crop damage
East of the Cascades, fruit growers are scrambling to get ready for a heat wave that could bring a peak temperature Tuesday of 113 degrees in Yakima and hang around until at least Friday, when a high of 107 is forecast.
Such an extreme surge in temperatures would complicate the already difficult job of picking for a cherry harvest now in full swing. To help workers escape the worst of the heat, some growers are preparing for predawn harvests while others plan to have crews start at sunrise and quit earlier in the day.
A prolonged spell of over 100 degrees also could damage some crops.
Farmers have experienced intense heat for days on end later in the summer. But the forecast heat, arriving so early in the growing season, would be a first, and makes it harder to predict what will happen.
“We are traveling in absolutely uncharted waters next week,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Northwest Cherry Growers. “We just don’t know what this is going to do.”
The heat wave arrives as some 10 million pounds of fruit a day are being picked from orchards in Washington and other Northwest states by tens of thousands of workers. The quality of the fruit has been good, and market demand has been strong, according to Thurlby.
Read the full story here.
For Texas tourists, the Seattle heat isn’t so bad
Ron Fitzgerald, 50, wanted to take a family vacation to Seattle to get away from the heat in San Antonio, Texas.
They just happened to come on one of the hottest weekends on record for Seattle history. But Fitzgerald isn’t bothered.
“At least here you have a cool breeze and shade,” he said.
The family came to visit the Lake Union water park after touring the Space Needle.
They plan to take a harbor cruise and visit the Chihuly glass museum. Despite the temperatures, they think Seattle is “beautiful.”
“We want to move here,” said Sabrina Fitzgerald, 44.
“Texas heat got y’all beat,” she said.
Lita Atienza, 45, is grateful for the sun.
A lifelong resident of Seattle, Atienza said she deals with months of rain each year so she will “take what she can get” from summer.
She and her husband, Reuben, 45, took their son Nico, 18 months, to the Lake Union water park to get some cool refreshment.
Their house in Shoreline does not have air conditioning nor does their car, so “today was the perfect day to get out and visit the splash pads.”
Shoppers head to the mall to escape the heat
Jessica Walker, 42, and Jonasia McCane, 15, woke up Saturday with a plan: Head to the mall.
The Kent residents knew they needed to get somewhere with air conditioning after spending a long night with fans angled at their beds.
How hot is the weather getting this weekend? “It ain’t hell but …” Walker joked.
The pair went inside Southcenter to do some shopping and enjoy cold drinks but Helena Yoshimura wasn’t so lucky. The 26-year-old dental hygienist trainee from Lakewood stood outside the mall in the hot sun wearing dark blue scrubs and holding a sign: “dental cleaning starts at $40 — come see me.”
“I need to get my own patients,” the Pima Medical Institute student said. “I’ll be out here for a couple hours.”
Yoshimura had sunglasses on and water in her backpack but the temperature was 88 degrees before noon. “This is rough,” she admitted.
Ultimate guide to staying cool in Puget Sound region
Local city and county officials are offering public cooling spaces for those looking for some sweet chilled air. The map above shows cooling centers in King County. Click here for our ultimate guide to staying cool.
—Amanda Zhou and Daniel Beekman
Here’s how to stay safe in lakes and rivers
Summer is when the region’s number of drownings increase without fail.
Last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many toward outdoors activities, King County officials counted 33 drowning deaths, twice as many as in 2018. Almost 70% of those deaths occurred in “open water incidents,” such as lakes and rivers versus pools and bathtubs, and more than half involved alcohol or drugs, according to Public Health — Seattle & King County.
“We’re sadly expecting that to happen again this summer, as society opens up and people resume their lives,” said Dr. Steve Mitchell, the medical director of Harborview Medical Center’s emergency department. “They’re excited to do it, but hopefully will do it with less risky behavior.”
King County has already seen 12 drownings this year — though the numbers are preliminary — including a 33-year-old Bellevue man who drowned last week after diving into Lake Washington to save his young child, and a 21-year-old man who died in the Green River near Enumclaw in May after trying to rescue his girlfriend who was caught in the rapids.
This year, medical and public health experts are hoping to get water safety guidance out early.
Read the full story here.
Pet plunges in Lake Washington
Captain the yellow lab was refreshed after a plunge into Lake Washington at Magnuson Park Saturday morning and a sloshing bowl of water poured by owner Dji Reinhard in the back of her station wagon In the parking lot.
“He goes swimming every day,” Reinhard said.
She was more anxious about her own plans for the day, which include an outdoor wedding in Snohomish.
“Oh my god,” she said, hoping to prep by drinking iced tea, “no sugar, extra ice.”
Related: How to keep pets safe from summer hazards
“It’s brutal out here”
The sun was already beating down in Magnuson Park at 9:30am Saturday as dozens of exercise enthusiasts in neon green shirts took part in an annual Pride run/walk out on by the Seattle Frontunners Club.
“It’s brutal out here,” 46-year-old Columbia City resident Jason Hong said, gulping air after completing a 5K.
Hong thought about skipping the event due to the heat but was determined to “just show up and support the community,” he said, planning to cool off with a dip in Lake Washington.
Cheerleaders with rainbow masks and pompoms applauded the participants as Jake Federowski handed out cup after cup of water. Some finishers poured the water over their heads.
“I’m sweating and I haven’t even run!” the 25-year-old from Queen Anne said, laughing.
The heat wave is here
It’s going to be a hot one.
The average high temperature at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for June 26 is 73 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The airport reached that temperature today at 7:30 a.m.
By 10:10 a.m., it was 84 degrees at the airport.