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caption: The sun inches behind a building in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood as the city experiences a record-breaking heat wave June 26, 2021.
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The sun inches behind a building in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood as the city experiences a record-breaking heat wave June 26, 2021.
Credit: Dyer Oxley / KUOW

'Like nothing we've ever seen.' How to beat a Seattle scorcher

With three days hitting over 100 degrees in the Seattle area, Jake DeFlitch with the National Weather Service admits “It’s nothing like we’ve ever seen."

In fact, the region hasn't felt this intensity of heat in over 100 years, since records were taken at the Seattle Federal Office Building. DeFlitch says that the northwest is likely to experience a warmer-than-average summer. But, he notes that the current "extreme event" will likely be an anomaly.

“Looking at the long-term forecast, we will continue to see above-normal conditions throughout the summer," he said. "Will it will be this hot? Probably not. This is really such an unusual, unique, unprecedented event. We will likely not see something like this again. But it looks like through the summer, we will stay above average when it comes to our temperatures over the next three months.”

The June heat wave is being driven by a set of factors more common in the Southwest. Hot air coming off the Cascade Mountains is being trapped under high atmospheric pressure. That creates a "heat dome."

Beating the Seattle heat

Such above-normal temperatures are akin to the other side of the year when icy events catch many Seattleites off guard. Before the scorcher arrived, many were scrambling to prepare for the extreme heat.

“We decided to come in Lowe’s, see if we can find maybe a small personal air-conditioner, or at the very least another fan," Vanessa Kirk-Riley told KUOW's Paige Browning on Friday. "And Bob, the best employee ever, walked by and I said ‘Is there any chance you have any?’ And he said ‘You know what, there might be one in the back.’ He went to check and made sure no one had reserved it. And that’s how we got the last air conditioner in Seattle.”

“Definitely wasn’t prepared," Kyle Villegas told Seattle Now. "Wish that we had more fans and air conditioners."

“We are going to stay in a hotel," Villegas added. "I almost feel bad about it because I’m thinking about all the people who don’t have that luxury. We are so lucky that we can do that … as soon as we can check-in, we are going to the hotel. And we are going to swim at the pool at the hotel and sit in the hotel room and watch movies or something."

DeFlitch with the Weather Service noted that staying hydrated and eating and dressing light are among the best ways to fend off the heat. But others have come up with their own culinary-methods to stay cool.

Seattle Times food writer Tan Vinh made martini slushies over the hot weekend.

“I went through one batch last night. And can I just say, it is the best brain freeze ever," Vinh said.

Crosscut's Knute Berger has his own hot weather recipe.

“I’ll tell you what my go-to drink is when it gets hot – Rainer Beer and lemon San Pellegrino," Berger said. "It is the most refreshing drink on a hot day. A Rainier tall boy and lemonade, half and half. It really hits the spot.”

It should be noted that alcohol can quickly dehydrate you, even when there isn't a heat wave sucking moisture out of your body. Drinking water is the best option.

Seattle Chef Kenji López-Alt went another route.

“We did raw vegetables and dips and cheese and charcuterie, stuff like that," he told Seattle Now. "Cold noodles. That’s a very Asian thing. Cold noodles, dipping noodles. Things like that.”

Produced for the web by Dyer Oxley