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The Pacific Northwest sets new records for daily high temperatures amid heat wave

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The Northwest U.S. is facing a record-breaking heat wave. Washington, Oregon and Montana have all hit new daily high temperatures. Austin Amestoy with Montana Public Radio reports.

AUSTIN AMESTOY, BYLINE: It hit 103 degrees in Missoula, Mont., yesterday - a new record. Triple-digit heat is unusual here.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

HAZEL RICHER: Yes. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Ah.

AMESTOY: Third-grader Hazel Richer and her friend are cooling off on the banks of the Clark Fork River.

HAZEL: We've been walking up and floating down to that rock.

AMESTOY: And why are you out playing in the river today?

HAZEL: 'Cause it's hot.

AMESTOY: Yeah. How hot is it?

HAZEL: One hundred degrees.

AMESTOY: The high-pressure ridge settled over the Northwest this week is pushing the mercury to new heights from the Pacific coast to the Missouri River. Daily high temperature records also fell in Washington and Oregon. It was 105 in Eugene yesterday. Spokane hit 102 degrees, Portland, 103. National Weather Service meteorologist Jenn Kitsmiller says heat like this comes around roughly once in 30 years. Kitsmiller says temperatures are prompting excessive heat warnings across the region, but that's only part of the picture.

JENN KITSMILLER: It's not just about how hot the daytime highs are, but it's also about how little it cools off at night. Because if you don't get that cool-down at night, then people aren't able to adjust and kind of have a respite from the heat.

AMESTOY: The Weather Service reports downtown Portland cooled to 74 degrees last night - the warmest overnight low ever for the city. The heat and low humidity is causing the 30-some wildfires in the region to grow, too, and sparking new ones. Kitsmiller says tropical storms in the Pacific helped fuel this latest summer heat wave, but they could help undo it too. While temperatures are set to stay sky-high through Friday, moisture from the Southwest could pull north by early next week, providing some relief.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

AMESTOY: Until then, Missoula mom Carrie Richer will keep taking Hazel down to the river.

CARRIE RICHER: Got to take a dip, like, probably every 20 minutes. What do you guys think? You guys go in more.

HAZEL: Yeah. She's going again.

AMESTOY: For NPR News, I'm Austin Amestoy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Austin Amestoy