Seattle set a record high temperature Sunday, with the mercury topping out at 104 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
For the first time on record in Seattle history, temperatures spiked above 100 degrees two days in a row, with residents scrambling to find relief — and flocking to beaches, parks and ice rinks.
Sunday’s scorching 104-degree milestone, which came at 5:29 p.m., made it the hottest day since at least 1945, when official temperatures started to be measured at Sea-Tac Airport. The previous high of 103 was set in 2009.
And for Seattleites already drenched in sun and sweat, the worst remains to come.
On Monday, forecasters predict a hot wind will sweep down the slopes of the Cascade mountain range and send temperatures soaring even higher, pushing a heat-stressed region further into the unknown.
In Seattle, “we are looking at 109, 110. 111 is not out of the question,” said Maddie Kristell, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
“The forecast tomorrow is for Seattle to be warmer than Las Vegas,” said Joe Boomgard-Zagrodnik, a postdoctoral researcher in agricultural meteorology at Washington State University. “Unheard of.”
Impacts of the heat wave — which climate scientists and meteorologists say is a manifestation of climate change and a portent of conditions in the coming decades — were beginning to pile up.
On Saturday, 41 people had visited emergency departments in King County for heat-related illnesses, according to James Apa, a spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Over the last three years, the highest number of heat-related visits in a day was nine.
At Harborview Medical Center, an elderly man was admitted to the hospital Sunday with severe heat stroke, according to spokesperson Susan Gregg. The man had to be packed with ice — in which ice is applied strategically to areas of the body that respond to cooling such as wrists and armpits — for 45 minutes.
“He’s now in satisfactory condition,” Gregg said.
With thousands seeking out beaches for relief, one man died at O.O. Denny Park in Kirkland on Lake Washington after being reported in distress in the water, fire officials said. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Amid the spiking temperatures, Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, advised people to reschedule outdoor activities slated for Monday.
Most vital city services remained functioning normally throughout the weekend.
Seattleites used 191 million gallons of water on Saturday, nearly 50 million gallons more than the average earlier in the week, according to data from Seattle Public Utilities.
Seattle City Light electricity use was above normal also, according to Kelsey Nyland, a spokesperson for Seattle’s joint information center that was responding to the heat wave. Nyland said that officials believe the region should have ample supply of both resources.
Isolated outages affecting hundreds of customers were reported throughout the day by Seattle City Light. Several thousand Puget Sound Energy customers were without power for hours on Sunday, including a sizable chunk of Issaquah.
Blistering pool deck temperatures led Seattle to close the pool at the Rainier Beach Community Center, with staff deployed instead to city beaches. The heat caused a concrete panel to expand and pop up on Interstate 5 and Interstate 405 in Tukwila, leading to temporary lane closures, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
People tried a bit of everything to escape the heat Sunday.
At Seward Park in South Seattle, parking lots were full and spilling over into side streets by 9 a.m., by which time the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s University of Washington station was charting 84-degree heat. Dozens of pleasure boats studded the Andrews Bay anchorage on the west side of the Seward Park peninsula.
Martha Aby set up a Coleman sun shelter with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. Their Judkins Park home has two rooms with air conditioning, she said, but her daughter had a hard time getting to sleep the previous night. That morning, she said, the family was “trying to be in the water as much as possible” before naptime.
Aaron Brummett filled a kiddie pool with ice and sat in front of the air conditioner to try to beat the heat Saturday.
On Sunday, he and his wife, Nikki Brummett, were among those flocking to the bleachers of the Kent Valley Ice Centre, an indoor skating rink designated as an emergency shelter, which operates at a chill 60 degrees.
Aaron Brummett worked on his computer from the bleachers while Nikki watched hockey practice.
Outside, the weather “feels like Malaysia, or Kansas,” said Nikki Brummett, naming places she had lived before moving to Kent.
The couple planned to return to the ice rink on Monday.
They had considered booking an air-conditioned hotel room, but when Aaron Brummett called around yesterday, he couldn’t find a room — most places nearby were already booked, he said.
In Issaquah, where the outage Sunday afternoon left thousands without power, the Issaquah Community Center offered a cool respite for many residents, including Donna Meade and two others who live in her senior housing complex. The trio headed for shelter after their building lost power around 1 p.m. Meade, a former Red Cross nurse, tried to convince more neighbors to join her, but many refused, she said. She ultimately decided that “I had to take care of me, and I could not be a mother hen for others,” she said.
Going forward, Meade said, “I will get air conditioning. I thought I could live through the heat, but nope. We still have July, August and the smoke to get through.”
The massive high pressure system hovering over the Pacific Northwest and trapping heat set records throughout the region.
The seaside town of Hoquiam broke 100 for the first time, exceeding that mark by two degrees. Portland hit 112, breaking its record from Saturday. And Lytton, B.C., set Canada’s new record for a national high temperature.
“It’s just regionwide,” Boomgard-Zagrodnik said. “That’s what really sticks out about this.”
Monday threatens to topple more records.
Meteorologists expect a thermal trough to push its way over the Washington coast and toward Seattle on Monday. This low-pressure system will draw hot air east of the Cascades into the Puget Sound region.
On Sunday, Boomgard-Zagrodnik said those near the Puget Sound on Sunday benefited from a breeze.
Not so for Monday.
“With these winds being out of the east, there’s not any relief,” he said.
Temperatures are so high that they could set records when they begin to trend back toward normal, Boomgard-Zagrodnik said.
Seattle’s biggest difference between one day’s high temperature and the next day’s low temperature is 43 degrees, Boomgard-Zagrodnik said. Early morning temperatures on Tuesday are expected to be in the mid to upper 60s.
“If it does get to 110 and then cools down to 65 — that would break that record — it would be the biggest cool-down ever,” Boomgard-Zagrodnik. “It’s going to be close.”
It’s a big cool-down in a relative sense, Kristell said.
“Temperatures could be in the upper 80s and lower 90s,” Kristell said, predicting Tuesday’s highs.
Seattle Times reporter Anna Patrick contributed to this report.