Pacific Northwest swelters in heat

PORTLAND, Ore. — Don’t tell the rest of the country, but people in the Pacific Northwest are feeling the heat.

While the South roasted under triple-digit temperatures, Portland residents sweated through their tank tops Tuesday, the city’s hottest day so far this year at 98 degrees.

That may not sound like much to hot-weather warriors in Arizona, where it was a dry 108 degrees Tuesday.

But people in swimming holes on Oregon’s Sandy River and on rocky beaches in Washington state had a message for their skeptical countrymen: If you turn up the heat, do we not burn?

Also, cut us a break, we don’t have air conditioners.

“Two days ago, we were at 67 (degrees),” Vicki Sekiguchi said while she kept an eye on her children paddling in a swimming hole east of Portland. “When we go to a 30-degree change, that’s a lot. A heck of a lot.”

Sure, people in hotter spots might roll their eyes. Some even brought their warm-weather superiority to the rainy region.

“I grew up in Texas, where you fry eggs on the sidewalk,” said Kira Rodenbush, who laid out in a swimsuit on a rocky shore near Troutdale, Oregon. “Where I grew up, this is Thanksgiving.”

The Pacific Northwest suffered one last weather indignity: Even meteorologists declined to classify one hot day as a heat wave.

In fact, Tuesday’s high temperature in Portland didn’t come close to the record for July 1. It reached 105 in 1942.

Seattle’s high of 94 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport did set a July 1 record, besting the old mark of 89, set last year, the National Weather Service said.

Weather in the region was expected to moderate Wednesday as a cooler maritime front pushes in from the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday also didn’t have much on summer 2009, when a heat wave (a real one) rocked the region in late July and few were prepared. Some froze their clothes to stay cool.

But there were upsides to the heat. At Shirley’s Tippy Canoe, restaurateur Shirley Wellton watched the crowds pack into the eatery near the river to watch the U.S. lose to Belgium in the World Cup and, well, drink.

“We’ve got to watch them when it gets dark,” she said, peeking over her shoulder at 25 rowdy soccer fans. “Right behind us is the river. You don’t want them tumbling in.”

Rodenbush, who believed Tuesday was a Texas Thanksgiving, said Oregonians will briefly embrace that yellow orb in the sky. But not for long.

“Pretty soon people are going to be wishing for the rain again,” Rodenbush said. “As soon as it gets too hot, they’re saying, when is fall coming?”

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