With the heat wave scorching Seattle expected to reach even greater highs in the coming days, city officials are urging precautions and advising residents to turn to city resources and activities to stay safe and cool.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning Thursday, with temperatures expected to exceed 100 degrees on Sunday and reach a record-breaking all-time high of 104 on Monday.
“This is an unprecedented event,” meteorologist Reid Wolcott said at a press briefing Thursday. “[We] have never seen forecast data like this before.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city will open additional cooling centers, parks, beaches and an overnight shelter this weekend. Officials will activate its emergency operation center downtown to monitor events and coordinate services with King County, she said.
She also urged employers to limit outside work and for residents to check in on neighbors and the elderly.
“We will have to take care of our families, our communities and each other,” Durkan said. “This is going to require all of us working together.”
Over 40 facilities will be open across the city this weekend, including 13 branches of the Seattle Public Library, senior centers and community centers, which will have water and air-conditioning. Outdoors, spray parks, lifeguarded beaches, wading pools and public pools will also be opened.
Masks and social distancing will be required at city library branches, regardless of vaccination status. Opening times for libraries, senior centers, parks and pools vary over the weekend. A full list of facilities with opening times can be found at Seattle.gov.
Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center will open as a 24-hour emergency shelter at a capacity of 73, for individuals experiencing homelessness from Saturday morning through Tuesday morning. Meals will be provided. The homeless shelter at the Exhibition Hall and several day centers will also remain open.
The city’s Homelessness Outreach team will be doing welfare checks and providing water, supplies and transportation to shelters, Durkan said.
Most city services — including pop-up COVID-19 vaccine and testing sites — will continue unaffected through the heat wave, but Seattle Public Utilities will be closing the city’s North and South Transfer Stations to self-hauls early, at 2 p.m. on Sunday and Monday to protect staff.
Seattle City Light executive Michelle Vargo said the region’s utilities are coordinating as a surge in energy use is expected over the coming days. “We do believe at this point in time that we should be able to get through this event with the resources that we do have here in Seattle,” she said.
City garbage collection will be moved one hour earlier on Monday morning; Monday customers should leave their garbage out by 6 a.m.
Wolcott said residents can expect slight relief early next week when temperatures dip below the triple digits. But high temperatures are still expected through the July 4 weekend, and officials are urging people to forgo fireworks.
“The risk of fire is great. … It can endanger our power lines, and then if our power goes out, it will make it even more dangerous for people,” Durkan said. “We’re just really asking people to be smart.”