Heat wave returns to Central Oregon

July 29, 2021
Heat wave returns to Central Oregon

A month after a historic heat wave hit Central Oregon, the region is facing another scorcher this week.

Temperatures won’t reach record-breaking levels like last month, but the National Weather Service office in Pendleton issued a heat advisory 11 a.m. Thursday through 8 p.m. Saturday.

“Central Oregon won’t see too much in terms of triple digits,” said Cole Evans, meteorologist at the weather service. “We are expecting more of that in the lower basin in Oregon and Washington.”

Parts of Eastern Oregon and Washington could see the thermometer reach 108 degrees Friday.

Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Thursday for 23 counties, not including Central Oregon, due to the heat.

The heat wave will be short-lived and end Saturday night with the arrival of rainfall, Evans said.

“As we head into the weekend, we are going to get a pretty good push of moisture into the area,” Evans said. “We will actually have a chance of showers and thunderstorms in Central Oregon over the weekend.”

The weather service issued a red flag warning Thursday for weather conditions that could lead to wildfires. After Thursday, the approaching storms are expected to bring enough rainfall to lower the threat of wildfires, Evans said.

“The amount of rain associated with these storms is going to offset the lightning threat,” Evans said. “But with as much instability there is with these thunderstorms, there can always be enough lightning to cause some problems as far as wildfires.”

In preparation for this week’s heat wave, which will affect most of the state, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management released a report with several recommendations for cities to avoid the deadly outcomes of last month’s heat wave.

Gov. Kate Brown directed the office to create the report after excessive heat June 25-30 led to 83 heat-related deaths across the state. The emergency management office is working with local and state agencies to implement its recommendations for the extreme heat.

Recommendations include ensuring the state is fully staffing its 211 hotline to connect people with health and social service organizations and prioritize the importance of residents checking on their neighbors, relatives and coworkers.

Another recommendation is for public transit agencies to consider waiving fares during extreme heat events.

Derek Hofbauer, outreach and engagement administrator for Cascade East Transit in Bend, said most routes have already been offered for free to the public since April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those routes will likely continue to be free through the end of the year, Hofbauer said.

“Fares currently only exist for CET’s recreation shuttles such as Mt. Bachelor, Ride the River, and Lava Butte,” Hofbauer said.

During the heat wave in June, several social service organizations in Bend set up two large cooling tents on Hunnell Road for homeless people in the area. Volunteers handed out bottles of water and other cooling and health supplies.

David Notari, director of development at Shepherd’s House Ministries, a homeless shelter in Bend, said Thursday his shelter and other organizations are monitoring the heat and will consider offering another cooling shelter if needed.

“If things get into triple digits, we will likely do something,” Notari said. “We are going to play it on a day-by-day basis and make sure people are safe.”

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