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Regional Interests

Cities across Oregon deal with another day of triple-digit temperatures

Multnomah County staff open a cooling center in North Portland for people trying to get away from triple digit temperatures.
Multnomah County staff open a cooling center in North Portland for people trying to get away from triple digit temperatures.

Cities across the Pacific Northwest are reacting to the excessive heat warnings Thursday.

Some places seem more prepared than others.

In cities like Portland, triple-digit temperatures are unusual and Multnomah County has opened several emergency cooling centers. By 4 pm Thursday afternoon, Portland had crested 100 degrees for the second straight day.

But in high-country towns like Pendleton, where it’s expected to reach 105 degrees, police chief Charles Byram said they’re not too concerned.

“It’s definitely fairly hot for us,” he said. “But we have numerous days throughout the summer months when temperatures reach triple digits.

“We’re kind of use to it in the climate that we’re in.”

Pendleton’s neighborhood winter warming station is now a summer cooling center.

Byram said locals will likely build little dams in the Umatilla River, which runs through town, so the water backs up and creates little pools.

“There’s one particular spot where there’s a little falls, where a pool builds up a little bit,” he said. “We also have a waterpark and we’re just completing a splash-pad area in a park as well.”

Compounding the heat, the Forest Service is warning people that the air quality is likely to deteriorate over the coming days as wildfires continue to burn and winds change.

Along the Willamette Valley, where towns aren’t so prepared for the heat, cooling stations are on alert. Emily Enders with the City of Salem said they’ve been watching the forecast and will open them if and when the temperatures get too high.

“We have available extra staff, extra officers, working during the heat wave in our Salem Fire Department,” she said. “Stations are aware that they may get extra calls. They may be called upon to have a health check, and they’re ready for that.”

The city is also asking people to check on their neighbors, especially the most vulnerable. At least 96 people died from heat-related issues in the Portland area during a heat wave in June.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting