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Clark County braces for potentially record-breaking heat

Clark County is heading into an extremely hot weekend, with 100-degree temperatures forecast Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service in Portland. There won’t be much relief at night, either; the low for Saturday night is 69 degrees.

Sunday’s heat will be in potentially record-breaking territory, according to meteorologist Tyler Kranz. The record high temperature for Aug. 15 in Vancouver is 103 degrees, set in 1933, and the record for Aug. 16 is 100 degrees, set in 2012.

“That (Aug. 15) record will probably stay, but it’ll be pretty darn close,” he said. “Sunday is the day where maybe we will break that record, or at least tie it.”

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for the entire Willamette Valley, as well as most of Clark County and the Columbia River Gorge extending out to Hood River, Ore. The warning applies from noon Saturday to 9 p.m. Sunday.

A red-flag warning is also in effect over the weekend for Western Oregon and Southwest Washington, meaning that the weather conditions will have the potential to fuel rapid growth of fires. The Camas-Washougal Fire Department issued a recreational burn ban Friday.

The heat wave is following a fairly common pattern for high-temperature weather in the region, Kranz said — surface heating in California creates an area of high air temperature and low pressure, which can sometimes end up snaking its way up the coast to reach the Pacific Northwest.

The worst of the heat is predicted to pass after the weekend, with temperatures dropping to a slightly less-scorching 92 degrees Monday. But highs are expected to remain in the 80s throughout the week and into next weekend.

Clark County Public Health spokeswoman Marissa Armstrong urged residents to stay in air-conditioned environments when possible this weekend and to try to limit outdoor activities, especially exercise, to the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.

Armstrong advised residents to wear hats and sunscreen outdoors and stay hydrated by drinking water and limiting consumption of alcoholic or sugary drinks.

For those experiencing homelessness, there are few indoor options for escaping the heat. The usual cooling centers, such as libraries and community centers, are closed. However, ReFuel Washougal and the Washougal Community Center plan to host a cooling center from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday that will include an awning with misters, cold water and other refreshments outside the Washougal Community Center.

Amy Reynolds, deputy director of homeless service provider Share, said that due to concern about the spread of COVID-19, the nonprofit really can’t open an indoor space. She said that during hot weather the outreach team gets as much water as possible into the hands of people who are sleeping outside.

Shady parks with open public restrooms are an option.

People can also call the Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677 to inquire about shelter, 211 for other community resources and 911 in case of a medical emergency.

It’s also worth remembering that the hot temperatures can quickly become dangerous if children or pets are left in cars. It’s illegal under Washington law to leave a child younger than 16 in a vehicle unattended, and pet owners can also be cited for civil infractions if they leave an animal confined in a hot car.

The heat wave is hitting at a time when Clark County Public Health has issued advisory notices for several of the county’s lakes due to elevated levels of toxic algae.

As of Friday, Vancouver Lake is closed outright. Lacamas Lake and Round Lake have warning level advisories, meaning the lakes are unsafe for people and pets. Round Lake was upgraded this week from a caution advisory to a warning advisory.

Fallen Leaf Lake and McCuddy’s Ridgefield Marina both have caution level advisories, which state that they may be unsafe, and swimmers should avoid any areas with visible algae scum.


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