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Summers in the Pacific Northwest, historically, are extremely mild. In Seattle, the region’s largest urban area, average summer temperatures generally hover around 70°F. In fact, in 130 years of recording-keeping, the city has only reached triple-digits three times: in 1941, 1994, and 2009.
This week, however, it’s looking like Seattle could add another record to the books, with temperatures projected to get dangerously close to the 100°F mark on Wednesday and Thursday. To the south, Oregon is looking at temperatures as high as 107°F in Portland, the second-largest city in the Pacific Northwest.
The Pacific Northwest is the most recent region to face historic temperatures this summer, following a massive heatwave in the Southwest that grounded some airplanes in late June.
Unlike the Southwest, however, which regularly sees temperatures soar above 90°F, the relatively mild summers of the Pacific Northwest mean many residents are ill-prepared for a days-long stretch of high temperatures. Only 15 percent of homes in Seattle have central air conditioning, meaning that many residents will find it difficult, if not impossible, to escape the heat.
“This is definitely not a town that was built on air conditioning, and usually we don’t need it,” Dana Felton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, told the Seattle Times. “On average we have only three 90-degree-plus days a year.”
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