An unprecedented heat wave and record-setting temperatures in the Pacific Northwest is having an impact early this week on local businesses and services in the Twin Cities.
The Chehalis-Centralia Airport on Sunday recorded 102 degrees, effectively tying a 1925 record for the hottest day ever recorded during the month of June in the city, according to the National Weather Service. But temperatures were expected to surge to an all-time high on Monday, with a forecasted high of 113 expected in the Twin Cities.
By noon Monday, the weather service was forecasting a high temperature of 111 degrees in Mossyrock while even higher elevations such as White Pass were expected to see highs of around 93 degrees.
The weather services issued a Red Flag Warning for Lewis County and other areas of Western Washington Monday. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either imminent or occurring. Any fires that develop will likely spread quickly. Outdoor burning is not recommended, and in Lewis and Thurston counties, among others, it is currently banned.
Large swaths of northwest and central Washington are also currently baking in an excessive heat warning through Tuesday evening, but triple-digit heat isn’t as uncommon in those regions.
Going back to 1902, Centralia and Chehalis have recorded temperatures exceeding 100 degrees about 40 times, according to NWS Seattle meteorologists.
After Monday, weather in the Twin Cities is expected to remain mostly clear for the rest of the week with highs ranging in the mid-to-high 80s and with significantly cooler evening lows. NWS Seattle says a “push of cooler marine air” moving northward along the coast will help cool the region.
Among the industries impacted are restaurants. While some opted to stay open this last weekend and early this week, others weren’t risking it and are closing up shop temporarily. Many say they plan on reopening Tuesday with regular business hours.
On Sunday, after deciding to close early, the owners of Berry Fields Cafe, a popular lunch spot located along Pearl Street, announced it would be closed all day Monday due to the excessive heat.
“Given this unprecedented heat in the last several days we have determined it is in our employees’ best interest to do so. We are sorry for the inconvenience, but our employees' health and wellness is a priority for us,” the business wrote on its Facebook page.
Staff with O’Blarney’s at the Gibson House, also located downtown and along Tower Avenue, said on Facebook Saturday that they were closing all day Sunday and Monday. Over in Chehalis, Jeremy’s Farm to Table announced it would close at 2 p.m. Sunday and Monday for the safety of its staff.
“We’ve never had heat like this before to deal with and my air conditioner just can’t keep up with the grill, the saute and the frier,” Jeremy’s Farm to Table owner Pamela Wildhaber told The Chronicle. “I think everyone just wants to get somewhere cool and stay there.”
Working in the kitchen in the excessive heat, especially in the afternoon, borders on “unsafe,” Wildhaber said.
“The front of the house was really comfortable. It really wasn’t so much about the comfort of the customers as it was about the safety of my cooks,” she said. “I know I wouldn’t want to stand in front of a 400-degree frier on a day like this.”
But it’s not just businesses and restaurants feeling the prolonged sizzle of this unprecedented and dangerous Pacific Northwest heatwave.
Twin Transit announced it would suspend service at 3 p.m. Monday.
Chris Thomas, spokesman for Providence Centralia Hospital, said 17 people were seen over the weekend by staff in the hospital’s emergency department wing for “heat-related issues,” including heat exhaustion, though nobody was admitted for a longer stay at the hospital.
“They were just treated in the emergency department and released home,” he said.
Providence Centralia sees about 100 people per day, Thomas said, and the volumes of patients were “fairly consistent” with what they’d see on a regular weekend.
During a Monday meeting of the Lewis Board of County Commissioners, Deputy Director of Lewis County Emergency Management Andy Caldwell said his department has concerns for the area’s seniors.
“We want to make sure that our long-term care facilities and adult care facilities have options available to them,” he said. “Today seems to be a little more concerning because we are expecting higher temperatures.”
Caldwell said they planned to turn on the air conditioner in the expo hall at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds in case any long term care facilities have problems with their cooling and need to evacuate.
“And again, right now, our concerns are those vulnerable populations of the seniors. I think we’re just trying to make sure that we know they’re covered as best we can,” he said.
The county on Monday also announced it would close its transfer stations in Centralia and Morton early to keep employees safe, but would reopen for regular hours Tuesday.