Photos show how Pacific Northwesterners are surviving amidst a record-setting heat wave

Shirtless man cools off in outdoor fountain
Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Record breaking temperatures lingered over the Northwest during a historic heatwave Nathan Howard/Getty Images
  • Seattle and Portland hit all-time high temperatures on Sunday as the Pacific Northwest grapples with an ongoing heat wave.
  • Hospitals in the region are reporting increasing numbers of heat-related hospitalizations.
  • Local photographers captured images of residents in the region taking every possible step avoid overheating.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Pacific Northwest is in the midst of a heatwave that’s stifling local infrastructure and endangering the lives of millions as both Portland and Seattle hit all-time high temperatures of 112 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday.

Experts are warning that heatwaves in the region may also bring along droughts, wildfires, water shortages, and additional power blackouts as the region grapples with the ramifications brought on by the extreme weather.

Photographers in the area documented the effects the record heat has had on the region, from freshly-setup cooling centers to an increase in heat-related hospitalizations:

Local governments set up cooling centers to save locals and their pets from overheating

About 5,000 Portland residents lost power amidst triple-digit heat on Sunday according to Portland General Electric. Municipalities in the northwest are turning convention halls and former COVID-19 isolation sites into cooling centers to let people escape the heat.

Multnomah County in Oregon reported at least 240 people used the locally-provided cooling centers on Saturday.

Woman lays with dogs in Pacific Northwest heat wave
Austun Wilde rests with her two dogs, Bird Is The Wurd and Fenrir at a cooling center in the Oregon Convention Center on June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Record breaking temperatures lingered over the Northwest during a historic heatwave. Nathan Howard/Getty Images
Man sets up bed in cooling shelter in seattle
Roberto Cedomio prepares his bed at a cooling shelter run by the Salvation Army at the Seattle Center during a heat wave hitting the Pacific Northwest, Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Seattle. AP Photo/John Froschauer

Hospitals are dealing with an influx of heat-related hospitalizations

Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center told KING 5 News on Thursday that local hospitals were preparing for increased hospitalizations from the heatwave. Tri-County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines told KATU 2 News that emergency rooms in the Portland area are at capacity.

At least fourteen people checked into Portland-area hospitals over the weekend due to heat-related condition, Vines said.

Fire department helps man in Oregon amidst heat wave
Salem Fire Department Capt. Matt Brozovich, left, and Falck Northwest ambulance personnel help treat a man experiencing heat exposure at a cooling center during a heat wave. AP Photo/Nathan Howard

Paramedics load person into ambulance
Paramedics Cody Miller, left, and Justin Jones respond to a heat exposure call during a heat wave, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Salem, Ore. AP Photo/Nathan Howard

High temperatures melted the power cables of Portland’s streetcar system

The city of Portland announced on Sunday that its streetcars were out of service after the heat melted a power cable. Streetcar and MAX Light Rail service in the city is expected to be out until at least Tuesday morning.

-Portland Streetcar (@PDXStreetcar) June 27, 2021

Normally a region that doesn’t need air conditioning, stores in the Northwest are running out of units

The US Census Bureau found in 2019 that Seattle has the least number of air conditioning units of any major city in the country with just 44% of homes containing AC. Portland, for comparison, reported having air conditioning in 79% of homes.

Woman wheels away air conditioner during heat wave
Sarah O’Sell transports her new air conditioning unit to her nearby apartment on a dolly in Seattle on Friday, June 25, 2021. O’Sell snagged one of the few AC units available at the Junction True Value Hardware as Pacific Northwest residents brace for an unprecedented heat wave that has temperatures forecasted in triple-digits Manuel Valdes/AP

People clamored to public parks and water fountains to cool down

Northwesterners are using every public resource to cool down amidst the heat. National Park officials issued warnings to bring additional water while hiking to stay hydrated and to avoid over exertion.

“There is no shame in turning around if the trail is too strenuous or you are not properly prepared – your friends and family will thank you,” Olympic National Park officials said on Friday.

A girl plays in a water fountain outside
Portland residents fill a cooling center with a capacity of about 300 people at the Oregon Convention Center June 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Record breaking temperatures lingered over the Northwest during a historic heatwave this weekend. Nathan Howard/Getty Images
Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain in Portland, Oregon, on June 27, 2021
Pablo Miranda cools off in the Salmon Springs Fountain in Portland, Oregon, on June 27, 2021, as record breaking temperatures lingered over the Northwest during a historic heatwave this weekend Nathan Howard/Getty Images