Pacific Northwest heat changes daily life: ‘No analogy to work with’

WINTHROP, Wash. — Forty-four fans arrived at the Ace Hardware store in this retreat town of about 400 residents nestled into the eastern folds of the Northern Cascades on Thursday. By Saturday, they had all been snapped up.

A new batch arrived the next day, Ruthie said from behind the register, and already the 20-inch, 10-inch and 5-inch models were gone.

Next door at the Thriftway, a steady stream of shoppers hoisting packs of water and bags of ice emerge into a scorching parking lot. At a Home Depot in nearby Omak, a security guard watched over a new pallet of air conditioning units.

The heat wave baking the Pacific Northwest has set consecutive daily temperature records in Seattle and Portland, sending the mercury to heights more common in Phoenix in August. Seattle hit a high of 106, the highest temperature ever recorded; in Portland, the temperature hit 115.