Record four-day heat wave bakes outer East Portland

Find out which neighborhood saw the hottest temperature officially measured during the heat wave; what caused soaring temperatures; and whether we’re in for more sweltering …

It’s not an “official” weather station, but, in outer East Portland, many folks check the temperature registered on the Division Center sign.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although our early August heat wave – four days in a row with over 100° temperatures, starting on August 13 – is past, the memory of that furnace of high temperatures is likely to be with us for a while.

To help combat the intense heat, the Portland Water Bureau set up temporary “misting stations” in city parks – but, with it being as hot as 108° in the shade, we didn’t find many using them. However, the Montavilla Outdoor Pool certainly operated at capacity during their “open swim” hours.

Inside the Portland National Weather Service station, located in the Parkrose neighborhood, meteorologist Chris Burling tells what contributed to the unusual hot weather.

“We’ve had a really strong ridge of high pressure over the region for several days, which caused these abnormally high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest,” explained National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Chris Burling in the Portland National Weather Service office, now in Parkrose.

“In some cases, we’re having record temperatures – including the all-time-record August high temperature of 108° in the Portland on Monday, August 14th.

The splash-pad water features in Raymond Park provide cool summer fun for Powellhurst-Gilbert kids and parents.

Although observed for some time, no one was seen using this “misting station” in front of the Mt. Scott Community Center.

“This high-pressure center stalled over our area is called a ‘blocking pattern’ – it sits still; in this case, for about six days – giving us these prolonged times of very hot weather.” Burling looked around at five computer screens spaced around his desk: “We never reached the 108° mark in Portland, ever, before 2021 — and until now, never yet in August until this year – and also, now we’ve just had over 100° degrees in four straight days, for only the third time here since 1941.” (The other time was in 1981.)

While looking at a map of high temperatures for August 14, Burling pointed out that a certified measuring station in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood had actually showed a high temperature of 110° at the peak. (Although that was accurate, the official Portland high temperature each day is the one recorded at the Portland National Weather Service office – formerly at the Portland Airport, and now moved to the Parkrose neighborhood.)

Looking back at the daily official records for August in Portland, these individual days stood out:

  • August 5, 1945 100°
  • August 3, 1977 105°
  • August 8, 1981 107°


Meteorologist Chris Burling displayed the NWS “Heat Risk” map for August 15, showing Portland’s areas of “extreme heat risk” that day in purple.

Warm nights keep the days hot
“The high overnight low temperatures have also been a contributing to our hot days this year, because we don’t cool down enough at night,” remarked Burling, displaying a “Heat Risk” map.

“These large red areas [on the display] denote a major heat risk; the purple areas are show an extreme heat risk based on our daytime high temperatures are not cooling off at night,” he said..

Time for a cool break at the Earl Boyles Park Splash Pad.

Predicts moderating temperatures
High temperatures moderated into the two-digit range later in the week, as Burling and the other NWS meteorologists had predicted.

“We don’t see another heat wave this year. As we get into September, it gets more and more difficult to see high temperatures – especially as the days continue to shorten,” forecast Burling.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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