‘Nowhere is safe’: heat shatters vision of Pacific north-west as climate refuge

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Unprecedented temperatures baked the region three weeks ago, part of a procession of heatwaves that have hit the parched US west, from Montana to southern California, over the past month. A “heat dome” that settled over the area saw Seattle reach 108F (42.2C), smashing the previous record by 3F (1.7C), while Portland, Oregon, soared to its own record of 116F (46.7C). Some inland areas managed to get up to 118F (47.8C). “There are a lot of people moving up from California with the idea there’s a lot of natural amenities and a lot of cheap space but all of these factors are changing,” said Jesse Keenan, an expert in climate adaptation at Tulane University. “It’s becoming less affordable and is increasingly burdened by forest fires, terrible smoke, flash floods and these heatwaves that suddenly make things a matter of life or death.”

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