EVERETT — A record-setting heatwave, which began in earnest on Saturday, hit its peak on Monday afternoon, closing businesses, melting pavement and filling air-conditioned hotels with locals craving a cool night’s sleep.
By mid-afternoon, numerous weather stations throughout the county were reporting triple-digit temperatures: 109 in Lynnwood; 108 in Lake Stevens; 107 in Maltby and Mill Creek; 104 in Everett near I-5; 104 in Marysville and Monroe; 103 at Arlington Municipal Airport; and 102 in Snohomish.
Even Paine Field, which is typically cooler than many places due to its proximity to Puget Sound, hit 100 degrees for a while.
Tuesday’s forecast calls for highs in the 90s, the National Weather Service in Seattle said. On Wednesday, things will cool into the 80s. Thursday and beyond, a semblance of normal: highs in the 70s. The sun will shine through next weekend.
Emergency rooms in Everett and Seattle have tended to a steady stream of patients suffering ill effects from the heat, with a Seattle doctor urging parents to make sure their children wear something on their feet.
“We’ve seen some injuries at Harborview Medicine Center over the weekend of burns from the asphalt to children’s feet” said UW Medicine pediatrician Dr. Beth Ebel. “And I know pets are at risk, too. So just think about it. The roads are melting in places here. It is ferociously hot. Do not have your kid running around barefoot when they can be on that kind of hot surface, you’ve got to get the shoes on.”
During a 48-hour period into Monday afternoon, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett had seen around 30 patients for heat-related illnesses, with causes ranging from dehydration to heat exhaustion.
“Today is the hottest day, and the expectation is that those numbers will go up,” hospital spokeswoman Cheri Russum said.
One drowning; close calls
Rivers have been a magnet of concern. Around 5 p.m. Sunday, a woman, 58, was with a large group when she jumped into the Stillaguamish River without a life jacket, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department.
Search and rescue crews and fire departments were called to the 21900 block of Sather Road to search for the missing woman.
The Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit found the woman’s body in the river at noon Monday.
Local search and rescue teams were in high demand over the weekend.
At least three different search and rescue missions took place in wilderness areas off the Mountain Loop Highway, including the Stillaguamish River and Mount Pilchuck, according to Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe.
On Friday, several children and adults were tubing on the Stillaguamish River when they got caught in a strainer due to a strong current. Some were not wearing life jackets. A swift water rescue team rescued the group.
Search and rescue was called Sunday to the east side of Mount Pilchuck. They located a man who “was not injured, just completely off trail and lost,” O’Keefe wrote in an email. He was directed back to the trail.
The sapping heat was nudging close to 110 degrees Monday afternoon in Gold Bar, where Eric Andrews is chief of the Sky Valley Fire district.
A longtime firefighter, Andrews could not remember a day so hot.
“I think we hit 103 once,” he said. That was surpassed Monday, but it was hard to compare with the scorcher from the past. “When it’s this hot, is there much difference?”
Sky Valley Fire had four water rescues calls over the weekend, including two people who became stuck in the middle of the river and were brought to shore. Two were overturned kayakers, one was a swimmer and the fourth went into the water to retrieve a ball before being swept down river.
Even so, the heatwave warnings likely kept many hikers off the trails as fewer cars could be seen at popular destinations such as Wallace Falls State Park and British Veil Falls over the weekend and into Monday.
Rivers and trails weren’t the only things Andrews and his rural fire agency was monitoring these days. Much of Western Washington along the Cascade Range on Monday were under a “Red Flag” advisory. That’s a National Weather Service designation meaning there are critical fire conditions and any fires would likely spread quickly.
Andrews was grateful there wasn’t wind in tandem with the heat.
“If we had wind and a fire, we would be in trouble,” he said.
Kindness in the heat
By 2 p.m. Monday, Sultan had reached 108 degrees, according to Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center director Debbie Copple.
Copple, and Sultan Mayor Russell Wiita, were holed up at City Hall to escape the heat, thanks to an HVAC system that was replaced last year.
The building is open for visitors who want to cool off, but the downtown area of Sultan remained relatively empty as people sheltered in their homes or hung close to the river’s edge.
“It’s too hot,” Copple said. “Everyone’s just trying to lay low and wait for this to pass.”
Wiita said residents were getting creative with ways to stay cool, but the big takeaway is the town’s willingness to care for one another.
“I see a lot of folks on social media offering up their homes if others don’t have ACs, and posting reminders to check on your neighbors,” Wiita said. “That’s one of the hallmarks of living out here — we pull together to help each other.”
Worst is over
“Today is certainly the worst of it,” National Weather Service meteorologist Maddie Kristell said Monday. “We are not going to see another day like this, but as we go into tomorrow, we could still have temperatures in the mid-90s.”
By Wednesday, offshore flow will bring the region to somewhere in the 80s, Kristell said.
Numerous records fell on Monday. All-time highs were recorded at a number of Western Washington locations: Quillayute at 110; Olympia at 109; Sea-Tac Airport at 107; the National Weather Service office at Sand Point in Seattle at 107; and Bellingham at 99. Two automated weather stations in Washington unofficially recorded 114 degrees, the weather service said: one at Dallesport and another at Sol Duc River.
Cities and the Snohomish County Public Utility District urged customers to cut down on water and power consumption Monday because the heavy demand strained resources. Some school districts, including Everett and Marysville, cancelled summer school classes Monday.
Merchants felt the consumer demand for relief.
The Lake Stevens Ace Hardware managed to get a rush-order shipment of fans delivered to their store Sunday evening, but by Monday afternoon they were close to selling out.
“This is the highest (demand) that I’ve probably ever seen,” owner Christine Egelstad said, “and we’ve been in the hardware business for over 30 years.”
Punks in the Park, an Everett-based mutual aid group organized by local BIPOC artists, spent the weekend delivering meals, snacks and cold water through their “Beat the Heat” initiative.
Volunteers in the group restocked the community fridge with donations and serviced areas including Smith and Everett avenues in North Everett.
Everett resident and mother of two Amy Lathan took to the Everett Public Library, one of the area’s advertised places to cool down. The library was “totally accommodating,” with coloring sheets, a movie screening, and of course, books.
For the next few days, she said her family is sticking with box fans and popsicles until the heat relents. She tried putting tin foil on her windows but didn’t feel that it helped.
“I’ve lived in Washington my whole life,” Lathan said, “but I’ve never experienced something like this.”
Herald writers Eric Stevick, Chuck Taylor and Ellen Dennis contributed.