EVERETT — Have those handheld fans and swamp fans and window fans ready. Timed perfectly with Sunday’s summer solstice, the heat is here and likely to stay through next weekend.
The National Weather Service in Seattle is forecasting dry and warm weather this week, with a possible peak in the high 80s Monday for Snohomish County.
“Because we’re not really used to it, it’s going to feel hot for Western Washington,” meteorologist Mary Butwin said.
As school days wane and temperatures rise, people might be drawn to lakes, rivers and Puget Sound. But the water remains shockingly cool and swift, and brush and grass are dry and a fire risk, which prompted calls for caution by emergency responders.
On Facebook, Snohomish County 911 dispatch services posted a flyer with water safety advice: active supervision, buddy system, drink water, wear properly fitting life jackets and use sunscreen. The agency also wrote about hiking safety for people heading to the mountains: Avoid carrying too much weight; bring enough water and food; hike with someone; pack a fully charged cellphone, maps, sunscreen and a first-aid kit; share your plans and route; and stay on the designated trail.
An area of high pressure, the same system that’s created a “heat dome” of 100-degree temperatures in the Southwest, has been building recently, Butwin said.
But Snohomish County’s high Monday will be in the low to mid-80s near the water and in the high 80s inland. After that, temperatures should drop to the mid- to upper-70s, cool somewhat Wednesday, then rise again for the weekend.
The Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management shared on social media some quick tips to stay cool at home. The department encourages people to drink plenty of water, avoid strenuous activity, close blinds and curtains, stay in the shade, take a cool bath or shower, and use fans to circulate air.
In 2015, 140 people died from drowning across the state, according to data from the state Department of Health. That year, the most fatal drownings were in King County, with 29, followed by Snohomish County’s 17.
The department says waters around the state can be dangerous, no matter the time of year. In spring, rivers run high and fast from rain and melting snowpack that can “easily overwhelm the strongest swimmer,” the department’s water safety website states. “Even on hot spring days, lakes, ponds and rivers are still cold and are dangerous for swimmers. Hypothermia can occur quickly in very cold water.”
Just because the air temperature soars to near 90 degrees quickly doesn’t mean the water warms that fast. Plus, rivers might have hidden boulders and logs that can tip watercraft.
The dry and hot weather creates conditions for brush fires, Butwin said. But the forest fire risk remains low for now.
“For our area, we’re not too concerned about it,” she said. “We still have plenty of moisture in our forests, in our trees.”
Ben Watanabe: email@example.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.
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