HEAT WAVE: Scorching temps are rolling into the Treasure Valley

Children delight in the spray from fountains and buckets of water as the heat climbs to near-triple digits last summer in Ontario. In the next few days, local temps will rise and hit new records. (The Enterprise/file)

VALE – It has been a long time since Malheur County faced the type of hot weather that will descend on the local area beginning this weekend.

About 40 years to be exact.

Temperatures are already hot – Ontario hit 100 on Thursday – but beginning Sunday the hate index will climb significantly.

According to the National Weather Service in Boise, the temperature Monday is forecast to hit 103. Tuesday the forecast is for a high temperature of 104 and Wednesday it will hit 107. The Tuesday and Wednesday temperatures will break records.

The previous record for June 29 was set in 2015 at 106. The previous high temperature record for June 30 was also 106, recorded in 2013.

The culprit is the desert southwest, said Korri Anderson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boise.

“We are getting a large, high pressure ridge over the West Coast. It is basically a large dome of warm air aloft. It is way bigger and stronger than it normally is,” said Anderson.

The National Weather Service in Seattle said Thursday that models predict the coming heat wave could be the strongest ever recorded in the Northwest.

While unusual, the heat wave isn’t unheard of, said Anderson.

The region endured a 32-day run of temperatures of 100 or more temperatures between July 20 and August 20, 1971, he said.

The next longest string of above 100-degree temps happened over a 14-day period – between June 14 and June 27 – in 1961.

The record high for Ontario was set on Aug. 4, 1961, at 113 degrees.

In terms of high temperatures, the early 1970s were hot. The records:

*June 25 – 107 set in 1970.

*June 26 – 106 set in 1970.

*June 27 – 105 set in 1973.

As hot air rolls across the Treasure Valley, air conditioners likely will be going full blast and that means a surge of energy demand on Idaho Power.

Sven Berg, a communications specialist for Idaho Power, said the company is prepared.

“Idaho Power frequently conducts long- and short-term planning exercises to meet customer demand in extreme circumstances. We’ve built a robust mix of energy sources to help us meet the challenge,” said Berg.

Idaho Power utilizes three sources of energy, said Berg.

“Our largest source is hydropower, which can be ramped up or down to adjust customer demand. Of course, drought conditions like we’re seeing now do impact hydro production,” said Berg.

Berg said Idaho Power uses as much “solar and wind energy as is available, but solar tends to start decreasing during our peak demand hour of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” said Berg.

Berg said Idaho Power also buys “energy on the open market.”

“And we use our own natural gas and coal plants to meet high demand,” said Berg.

The Oregon Health Authority also released a warning Thursday, urging Oregonians to take steps to prevent heat-related injuries.

“It’s critical that people do what they can to avoid the heat as temperatures get to the level where they can cause serious health problems,” said Richard Leman, public health physician at the Oregon Health Authority.

Steps range from remaining indoors during high temps or seeking shade if a person is outside in the heat. OHA also recommends residents limit exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and wear loose-fitting clothing to keep cool.

For more information on tips to avoid a heat injure go to www.oregon.gov/oha/.


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