Sure it's hot, but are we heat wimps in Seattle and the NW?

Aug 16, 2012

In the Seattle region, where we have few air conditioners, a string of 90-plus days can raise alarms:

But with the rest of the country melting under temperatures of 100 degrees or more for days in a row and drought striking the Midwest, we wonder if perhaps we in the Northwest are heat wimps.

"Yes we're wimps, we complain about everything when it comes to weather," said Melissa Reese in downtown Seattle.

When we asked on our Facebook page for unique ways people were staying cool at home, the second response was a quick slap on our collective wrist for whining about the weather:

Audrianne Giroud wrote: “Wow, big deal. 92 degrees. You Seattleites sure know how to turn temperate weather into an obnoxious crisis.”

Still, it can be serious

Of course, there are serious conditions to keep in mind, from fire to heat exhaustion.

The National Weather Service says Thursday and Friday are likely to be the hottest days of the year in Western Washington.

And, forecasters issued an excessive heat warning with highs in the 90s for the Puget Sound area including Seattle, Tacoma, Bremerton and Everett. 

“Exposure to smog can trigger asthma attacks, make breathing difficult, exacerbate lung and heart problems and weaken the immune system,” Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said in its smog alert. 

And there’s a significant fire burning on the east side of the Cascades:

“Firefighters from around Washington state converged Wednesday on a wildfire that destroyed dozens of homes, just one of the blazes being fought across parched western states,” NBCnews.com reports

“More than 800 firefighters were expected to help fight the Taylor Bridge fire in Eastern Washington, joined by 145 prison inmates and a couple of National Guard helicopters,” according to KING-5 in Seattle

Also, some of the smoke from the Taylor Bridge wildfire could get sucked through Snoqualmie Pass and into Western Washington by the offshore flow of air helping to keep temperatures high, the Seattle Times reported today.

KPLU weather expert and University of Washington professor Cliff Mass also speculated that while fires on the east side of the Cascades are expected, big fires on the west side are possible too.

Mass wrote:

As our hearts go out to the people who have lost their homes, businesses, and animals in the Taylor Bridge fire near Cle Elum and Thorp, the natural question for west-side residents is:  could it happen here?  Could a major fire strike the region west of the Cascade crest? 

The short answer is Yes ... it not only can happen but HAS happened, particularly along the western slopes of the Cascades.

Yet, our fellow Seattleites think we’re all wimps:

  • "Yep, Absolutely just because we're not used to the weather," says Chris Jones.
  • "Definitely, because we're scared of the heat and aren't prepared for it," says Darling Aberila.
  • "We whine about it a bit so yes, it's because the humidity from the water making it seem hotter than it really is," says Larry Abel.
  • "Yeah, we like to b*tch about the weather no matter what it is," says Dustin Snyder.
  • "I think so because we're not used to it even though Seattle is one of the coolest places in the country during the summer," says Emily Sutter.
  • "Yeah, we're just not used to it. I was even dying in my car just a second ago!" says Justice Canley.

However, if we can hang on, a push of marine air should bring some relief on Saturday in Western Washington, the Weather Service said.