Dozens dead in Washington, Oregon as heat wave takes its toll

ABC News

(PORTLAND, Ore.) —¬†Unrelenting heat waves are still pounding the Northeast and Pacific Northwest — but cooler weather is on its way for East Coast residents.

Heat is a silent killer. On average, more people die from heat than any other severe weather, including tornadoes, hurricanes or flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

Since Friday, there have been 45 heat-related deaths in Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes Portland, officials said. “Many of those who died were found alone, without air conditioning or a fan,” the county medical examiner said in a press release. There have been 63 heat-related deaths statewide in the current heat wave, the Oregon state medical examiner said.

In Washington’s King County, which includes Seattle, 11 people have died from the heat, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. In Benton County, Washington, a 73-year-old woman with underlying conditions died; the cause was related to hyperthermia from the heat, said coroner William Leach.

President Joe Biden addressed the historic heat on Wednesday, saying, “We need people to check on their neighbors, especially seniors, who may need a helping hand.”

The dangerous heat also struck Canada. Vancouver police said they’ve responded to 98 sudden deaths since Friday, and two-thirds of the victims are over the age of 70. The causes of death haven’t been determined, but police said the number of calls have been higher than usual during the heat wave.

The record heat is over in Seattle and Portland. But on Tuesday, Spokane in eastern Washington hit a new record high temperature — 109 degrees.

The heat will continue for eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and California on Wednesday, and is also spreading into Montana and Idaho, where temperatures could climb above 100 degrees.

The hot and dry weather is also helping to fuel fires; there are now 47 large wildfires burning in the West.

Meanwhile, the Northeast is on its last day of its scorching heat wave.

Hartford, Connecticut, and Manchester, New Hampshire, smashed records Tuesday at 99 and 98 degrees respectively.

More record highs were set Wednesday with temperatures reaching 98 degrees in New York’s Central Park, the hottest temperature in eight years, while Newark, New Jersey, reached 102 — tied for the highest temperature all-time in June. LaGuardia Airport in New York City also set a daily record at 100 degrees.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to cut back on energy use to avoid a widespread outage, noting that about 1,700 customers were without power in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Wednesday.

Severe weather will then move into the Northeast Wednesday afternoon. A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect from western New York to Maine. Wind gusts will post the biggest threat from Albany to Boston to Portland, and isolated large hail and brief tornadoes are possible.

Then the Northeast will get a cool down. By Friday and Saturday temperatures will fall to the mid 80s in Philadelphia and New York, and plunge to the 60s in Boston.

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