Our next heat wave is here.
Excessive heat warnings are in place for much of Western Washington, which is expected to significantly warm up Friday before cooling off slightly over the weekend and into next week.
Seattle was just a few degrees shy Thursday of breaking the record high temperature of 96 degrees for Aug. 12, set in 1977, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.
Nonetheless, Thursday’s heat forced cooling centers in the region to open, people to flock to air-conditioned spaces and officials to remind residents throughout the state to remember heat precautions.
Miguel Mendoza Perez, 31, a lead crew member at West Seattle-based Devonshire Landscaping, spent much of his day working outdoors.
Compared to June’s historic heat wave, “everybody is more prepared,” he said. “The last one came at us kind of fast and everyone was shocked. This one, we’ve been hearing about it.”
Mendoza Perez said his team had a meeting earlier this week to go over the signs of heat exposure and heat illness. They remind each other to drink water, and take frequent breaks on the north side of clients’ homes, “where the shade often is,” he said.
The team plans to be off Friday, when temperatures are expected to reach 96 degrees, according to Steve Reedy, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Seattle office.
Despite coming up short Thursday, Reedy said Seattle has a “good shot” Friday at breaking the record for Aug. 13’s high temperature of 92 degrees, set in 2002.
While the high temperatures are forecast to be less brutal than the June heat dome that broke the all time record and caused at least 11 heat-related deaths in King County, the sky may not be as clear. Northwest winds blowing smoke from fires in British Columbia into the Puget Sound, is lowering air quality throughout the region.
Smoke can both heat and cool air depending on its thickness and time of day, said meteorologist Mary Butwin. During the day, smoke can reflect heat from the sun and at night, smoke functions like a cloud and insulates the ground keeping it warm.
Seattle may see a few hours of more intense smoke Friday morning as a plume from the Schneider Springs Fire, northwest of Naches, passes over central Puget Sound, according to the Washington Smoke Information blog, a partnership between state, county, federal agencies, and Indian tribes to collectively share smoke information.
Once that passes, agencies are predict most of the Puget Sound’s air quality will be moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups through Saturday, when the wind direction will shift to westerly.
The exposure is expected to be brief. The arrival of a cold front will bring in clear air from the Pacific Ocean and improve air quality.
On Saturday, the region should get some relief with more onshore flow, bringing temperatures back down to around 90. The cooling trend will likely continue Sunday — Reedy predicts high 80s all along Puget Sound — with a chance of light rain during the afternoon.
“We’re still looking at the prospect of a weather system moving in Sunday,” Reedy said. “It should continue on and off through the day Monday before things taper off.”
By early next week, our region should hopefully return to normal seasonal temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s, Reedy said.
Seattle Times staff reporters Akash Pasricha, Christine Clarridge and Amanda Zhou contributed to this report.
The Seattle Times is tracking locations of wildfires across the Pacific Northwest. Visit seattletimes.com to use the interactive map, which will be updated throughout the fire season.