Can't Stand the Heat | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Can't Stand the Heat 

Central Oregon battles three-figure temperatures, with average temperatures above 100 all week long

Central Oregon was projected to have several days of high heat, exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday through Saturday. With last year's heat dome fresh in the minds of Oregonians, local governments are urging people to take precautions.

On July 26 Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for 26 Oregon counties through July 31. The order directs the Oregon Department of Emergency Management to coordinate with statewide agencies and respond to disaster areas in protection of lives, property and the environment.

click to enlarge A heatmap shows a significant amount of Oregon can expect high temperatures this week. - COURTESY OF NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
  • Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • A heatmap shows a significant amount of Oregon can expect high temperatures this week.

"With many parts of Oregon facing a high heat wave, it is critical that every level of government has the resources they need to help keep Oregonians safe and healthy," Brown stated in a press release. "I encourage everyone to take proactive steps to keep themselves and their families safe, including drinking plenty of fluids, taking advantage of cooling centers, and checking in on neighbors, friends, and loved ones."

Last year's fatal heat dome was the deadliest weather event in Canadian history, killing over 800 people in western Canada. It was also responsible for the deaths of nearly 200 people across Washington and Oregon. Most of the deaths in Oregon were in Multnomah County, but two Bend residents experiencing homelessness also passed away during the heat wave. This year the Oregon Health Authority is distributing air conditioning units to the most at-risk individuals. It delivered 500 the weekend prior to the heat wave and is expected to procure 3,000 over the summer.

"Climate change has made extreme heat events the rule, not the exception, during Oregon's summer months," said OHA Director Patrick Allen in a press release. "These air conditioning units are a necessary step for building resilience to this health threat, particularly for those most vulnerable to heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death."

Still, with the temps reaching heights at a more predicted time, officials are hopeful that the region won't see quite the same extremes this year.

"Last year was record-breaking—that was at the end of June. Typically, we see our hottest temperatures in July or late August, so we're not looking at temperatures as warm as last year," said Jim Smith, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Pendleton.

click to enlarge The City of Bend set up this misting tent on Hunnell Road north of town. - JACK HARVEL
  • Jack Harvel
  • The City of Bend set up this misting tent on Hunnell Road north of town.

Oregon's highest recorded temperature happened during last year's heat wave, when it reached 119 degrees north of Madras. This week's heat wave is expected to hover around 105 degrees during the day. The cooling effect overnight is expected to be minimal.

"It's important to note that overnight temperatures, the recovery is not as good as normal. The low temperatures are only 60s and even maybe around the lower 70s Wednesday and Thursday night, so it's not quite getting as cool," Smith said.

Older people living alone, people in multifamily buildings and people experiencing houselessness were disproportionately killed or hospitalized because of the heat last year. Deschutes County encouraged people to check on elderly neighbors and family members twice a day. Local nonprofits specializing in houselessness are hosting cooling shelters to keep people cool.

In Bend, the Shepherd's House shelter on Second Street is open from 11am–6pm at least through Friday. The Masonic Hall on Eighth Street is open from 9am-1pm, and a mister tent is also set up on Hunnell Road, where many people park RVs. In Redmond, Shepherd's House also invites people to cool down at Grace Gate Church. A mister tent is also set up on 17th Street in Redmond.

"When it gets really hot, we see a spike in the number of people that access our services," said David Notari, director of development at Shepherd's House Ministries. "We've seen that for the last eight-plus years that we've done sheltering in the winter, and then at some specialty times in the summers where we opened up heat sheltering."

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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