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Computer model projection showing the jet stream winds and "misery index" of surface temperatures on June 27, 2021. (Earth.nullschool.net). The circulation of jet stream winds shows the location of the "heat dome" over the Pacific Northwest.

A "historic" and potentially deadly heat wave is on tap for the Pacific Northwest into southwestern Canada this weekend into early next week, with never-before-seen temperatures possible in cities like Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash.

Why it matters: The heat wave will affect a region where many people lack central air conditioning, raising the likelihood for public health impacts. In addition, power demand is likely to spike at a time when hydropower resources are running relatively low due to drier than average conditions.

The background: This heat wave is related to the same weather pattern that brought record heat to the Southwest last week, and is proving to be remarkably persistent.

  • As in the Southwest, the heat will raise the risk of wildfires, too, in Oregon, Washington, northern California, and British Columbia, among other areas.

Driving the news: Computer models are unanimous in showing a highly unusual weather pattern moving into place over the Pacific Northwest beginning this weekend, with an extraordinarily strong high pressure area aloft, colloquially known as a "heat dome," anchored over the region.

  • The jet stream will take a detour around this high, bulging northward toward Alaska, and allowing mild air to surge northward.
  • Heat waves such as this one are one of the clearest manifestations of human-caused global warming, with studies showing that climate change boosts the odds of their occurrence and heightens their severity.
  • Some recent studies have found that extreme heat events could not have occurred in the absence of global warming.

Details: In Seattle, where the average high temperature for this time of year is in the low-to-mid 70s, the National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting a high of 97°F on Sunday, which would break the record for the hottest temperature on record there during the month of June.

  • The Weather Service stated that Sea-Tac Airport has a 75% chance of exceeding 95°F on Saturday, and an 85°F chance of exceeding 95°F on Sunday.
  • The heat will be most intense in inland areas of Washington and Oregon, away from any cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean. There, temperatures are forecast to soar to between 100°F and 114°F on Saturday and Sunday, and remain extremely hot through much of next week.
  • Portland, Ore. is forecast to be in the low triple-digits on Saturday and Sunday, likely breaking their June temperature record and getting within striking distance of smashing their all-time high temperature record of 107°F.

What they're saying: The NWS is not mincing words about the severity of the heat event that is coming: "Triple digit heat arriving this weekend and persisting well into next week could rival some of the longest lasting and extreme heat waves in the recorded history of the Inland Northwest," agency forecasters in Spokane wrote Wednesday.

  • Forecasters noted that multiple hot days will increase the likelihood of heat-related illness, particularly because overnight low temperatures won't drop below the 60s and 70s, preventing people from recovering from the heat at night.
  • In a typical year, heat kills more people in the U.S. than any other weather-related hazard.

Of note: In addition, the drought is likely to worsen in interior portions of the Pacific Northwest, as the high temperatures dry out soils, and make the region more prone to wildfires during this period as well.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 22, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on bold climate commitments

On Wednesday, September 22nd, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and energy reporter Ben Geman hosted a virtual conversation on the innovative approaches climate leaders are undertaking to reshape standards for sustainability initiatives in 2022 and beyond, featuring White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp.

Gina McCarthy explained the Biden administration’s recent environmental priorities, the importance of mobilizing different communities to fight climate change, and how the White House is incentivizing private industries to reduce their emissions.   

  • On addressing extreme heat problems: "I think everybody’s beginning to understand as the President tours the sites of wildfires and flooding and other really big challenges like drought, there’s this silent killer for climate change that’s called excess heat, that really doesn’t get enough attention."
  • On cross-agency collaboration on climate change at a federal level: “It’s an exciting moment where people across the federal government are working together in ways they have never done before, not just to tackle wildfires and droughts and flooding and heat stress, but also to tackle the challenge of how we motivate our business sector and send them all the signals you would want us to send that shows that President Biden is committed to achieving net zero in 2050, and knows that this decade is a decisive decade.”

Fred Krupp highlighted how companies must be held accountable to pledges to reduce their emissions, how some corporations are breaking with lobby associations to become more vocal about climate change (and others are not), and how he believes debates surrounding the infrastructure bill will play out in the near future. 

  • On how corporate lobbying has fallen short: “Right now, we don’t see enough corporations lobbying on behalf of the climate sections of the reconciliation bill. This bill that’s pending in Congress is our once in a decade opportunity to get something done on climate.” 
  • On public support for the infrastructure bill: “I see an enormous amount of support in the American public for moving ahead with a sort of clean energy economy that are going to create tremendous numbers of jobs, clean the air, make people healthier.” 

Axios VP of Communications Yolanda Brignoni hosted a View from the Top segment with GE’s Chief Sustainability Officer Roger Martella, who discussed how GE is following through on their ESG goals by investing in sustainable energy technologies. 

  • “We create some of the most technically complex and critical technologies the world needs, and we’re focused today on innovating these technologies on a path to decarbonization.” 

Thank you GE for sponsoring this event.

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court grants stay for indoor mask mandate — Neil Young demands Spotify take down music over vaccine misinformation — Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Scoop: Airbnb policy vet goes crypto

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mujahid Safodien/AFP via Getty Images

Chris Lehane, a top Airbnb exec and former Clinton administration official, tells Axios Pro Fintech Deals he plans to join the leadership team of a crypto venture-capital fund next month.

Why it matters: The move by Lehane is a sign of the growing allure the crypto world holds for tech pioneers who have already amassed power and wealth but still want to scratch the "disruption" itch.