Marine air takes the edge off sizzling summer

Relief is here.

Cool winds and clouds are blowing in from the ocean and knocking the edge off the week’s record-setting heat wave.

Weekend highs are expected to peak in the upper 70s to lower 80s — a good 20 degrees cooler than earlier in the week.

Next week, highs are expected to remain in the mid-70s and 80s in the Everett area, said Jeff Michalski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“There will be nothing oppressive like we saw Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said.

Wednesday was the hottest day on record in Seattle and throughout the Puget Sound region. In Snohomish County, thermometers topped 111 degrees in Darrington, 108 degrees in Granite Falls and 105 degrees in Lake Stevens. However, those weren’t official National Weather Service measurements.

The hottest official temperature recording in the region on Wednesday was 107 degrees in Puyallup, Chehalis and Vancouver, Wash., Michalski said.

The sizzling heat sent scores of people to cooling shelters, pools and rivers.

Hot weather can bring a spate of problems — drownings, heat stroke and forest fires, said Mark Murphy, operations chief for the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

Though heat lightning sparked some small forest fires and a Seattle woman drowned in the Skykomish River in Monroe on Monday, overall, the county fared relatively well this week, Murphy said.

“This is not what you would consider normal weather for Western Washington,” he said. “And it does end up putting a lot of strain on people. It puts a strain on the electrical systems. I think people are really dealing with things as best as they can, but we still have a ways to go.”

August is typically the hottest month of the year in Snohomish County. Unusually dry weather in June and July could mean a tough forest fire season this month, Murphy said.

Firefighters from the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service were gathering in Darrington on Friday to prepare to fight fires on state land and in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest northeast of Darrington.

A small city of fire crews has been set up at the town’s community center, Darrington Mayor Joyce Jones said.

Typically, 3.8 inches of rain fall in Everett in June and July. This year, there’s only been three-quarters of an inch, Murphy said.

“There’s still some challenges out there for us as a community,” he said.

Earlier this week, people seeking refuge from the heat lounged in pools, ran through sprinklers and took cold showers — leading to a spike in water consumption.

On Monday through Thursday, the city of Everett’s 500,000 water customers throughout Snohomish County used 435 million gallons of water, which is around 20 percent more than usual, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

Readers enjoyed the city’s two air conditioned libraries and checked out 1,600 more items in the three days beginning Monday, compared to the same three days last week.

Michalski hoped the heat wave showed people the importance of following the forecast.

“Even during the summer months when the forecast is usually benign, its still pays to pay attention to the forecast,” he said.

Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3292, kmanry@heraldnet.com.

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