Smothering heat wave blankets area

Find out why weather experts say this sizzling hot weather baking outer East Portland has stayed so long, and when it’s expected to lift …

Playing in Portland Parks & Recreation splash pads, like this one in Earl Boyles Park in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, is one way to stay cool during the heatwave.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Unusually warm summer weather gave way to a genuine heat wave this week, and it’s likely to be warm for quite a while, is the what a professional weather forecaster told East Portland News on August 1.

NOAA National Weather Service Portland Bureau Science and Operations Officer Bill Schneider – stationed at the regional office in Parkrose – explained the unseasonably hot spell for us.

Hot weather is hear to stay, at least for a while, says NOAA National Weather Service Portland Bureau Science and Operations Officer Bill Schneider.

“We have had a pattern set up where we have high pressure that is building up in the atmosphere,” Schneider began.

“It is really starting off, out in the Pacific Ocean, northwest of Washington and Oregon,” Schneider began. “Over the last couple of days, it started to build, and will continue building over the next several days. And then, it will shift a little to the east, so it’ll be centered a little more over Washington and Oregon.”

The temperature soars in the Midway Business District, as indicated on this landmark sign.

The science behind our scorching hot weather, Schneider said, is that the high-pressure in the atmosphere compresses the air, causing it to heat up. The hot air also scours out clouds that can shield us from the hot sun’s rays.

“And, we have more of an ‘offshore’ flow, so the winds are coming from the east and going to the west, and blocking the cold, moist Marine air which often influences weather here – keeping away this kind of a natural ‘air-conditioning’ we enjoy,” explained Schneider.

It’s not totally unprecedented weather, he said, but it is comparable to the heat wave of August 2009, when high temperature records were set.

It’s even hotter in Montavilla, as this sign indicates.

Asked to look into his crystal ball and forecast this fall’s weather, Schneider said, “It’s a little bit early to tell what is going to be. We look at large scale weather patterns to give us an indication how conditions might be in the future. Right now, we’re in a ‘neutral phase’, as far as El Niño and La Niña weather patterns are concerned; so I expect we’ll have fairly close to normal conditions.

“But, there are many things are going in the atmosphere that can influence that,” Schneider hedged.

Looking east from the driveway at Rossi Farms in Parkrose, Mt. Hood is usually in full view – but not during this Oregon DEQ-issued “Air Quality Alert”.

As the week progressed, record-breaking high temperatures were prevented by unprecedented smoke and haze, caused by wildfires burning in British Columbia 300 or more miles away, giving ample reason for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to issue an “Air Quality Alert”. Although the smoke is expected to clear by Saturday, the stagnant air conditions require the alert to remain in effect until at least 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8, and possibly later.

The Montavilla Community Center outdoor pool is closed, on some of the hottest days of the year – due to concerns about unhealthy air.

Portland Parks & Recreation closed outdoor swimming pools for from August 3 through August 4.

“It’s due to the metro area’s Air Quality Alert and current Unhealthy Air Quality Index rating,” explained Parks Bureau spokesman Mark Ross. “However, PP&R indoor pools remained open and available for swimming both days.”

Stay cool!

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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