The numbers, so as not to bury the lede: 44 percent.
That is the number of Seattle homes with air conditioning. This is up from 2013, when only 31 percent or so had it.
103 degrees. That is the all-time high for any date in the city of Seattle, set on July 29, 2009.
We are looking at close to 900k homes without A/C and on Monday it is scheduled to rise to 112 degrees. For context, the average late June high in Seattle is about 75ish degrees.
It is not everyday you find a temperature 35 degrees above normal. If that happened in St. Louis the temperature would be nearly 125 degrees, for example. Could it? I have long since exited the “Rule Things Out” business. But St. Louis is generally a much more air supplied area. Still St. Louis is much hotter at night usually. So Even The Nights Are Better in Seattle, still. But given air conditioning access the St. Louis populace would be in better shape, generally.
But the thought of 112 degrees, in an area where people usually laugh at the concept of air conditioning, in an era where so many are working from home..oh I left that part out:
In the Seattle metro area, which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, nearly half (48.7%) of all adults have switched to teleworking because of the pandemic.
This data comes from the new Household Pulse Survey, which was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau from Aug. 19 through Aug. 31. It shows that nearly 1.5 million people, age 18 and older, in our metro area have substituted some or all of their typical in-person work for telework because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Granted that number is old, however it is conceivable as many as a third of Seattle residents are still working from home. One could project at a minimum, just in workforce, that 300k Seattle workers will be attempting to sweat it out and do their jobs. The rest? I would guess if you have no air conditioning, you will never be so happy to go to the office. But what happens to the body, at certain temperatures, and how hot will a sealed building or office get with no A/C? Anecdotally, I have seen claims of over 100 degrees, depending of course on insulation, juxtaposition to western sunlight, and other factors. Clearly The Heat Is On.
And this is very serious:
Exposure to high temperature for a sustained period can cause heat-related illness (hyperthermia) or death. The two most serious types of heat-related illness are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is characterized by paleness, fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. The skin is typically cool, and moistness and sweating might occur. The pulse rate is fast and weak, and breathing is fast and shallow. If untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke (8). Heat stroke is a serious, often fatal condition characterized by a body temperature of >103º F (>39.4º C); red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.
Elderly persons, children, and persons with certain medical conditions (e.g., heart disease) are at greatest risk for heat-related illness and death. Drinking alcohol, participating in strenuous outdoor physical activities in hot weather, and taking medications that reduce the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration also increase risk. Air conditioning is the most important protective factor against heat-related illness and death. For the 1995 and 1999 Chicago heat waves, the risk for heat-related death increased for persons with cardiac disease or psychiatric illness and for persons who lived alone. Having a working air conditioner and participating in group activities in which heat-related illness might be identified were the most important protective factors.
Now if you have ever experienced a moment by which you later say, “never again” then you know that if it does actually get to 112 degrees in a coastal climate, thousands of Seattle metro persons will get themselves air conditioning. But the electrical grid is suited to an area gradually air conditioning itself, not doing it all at once.
Extreme heat can also place a strain on electrical infrastructure, potentially compromising the region’s already unusually low access to the cooling relief of air conditioning.
Let us say too, that an entire area the size of Seattle decided to air condition itself in the wake of this. Well if we conservatively estimate between portables, window units, and full central air the average cost is $2k, then we are looking at $1.7 billion dollars in consumer cost.
And while I am talking about Seattle, I do not mean to leave out Portland or Bend, or other areas of the Pacific Northwest. In total, millions of people will be facing extreme, heat, the kind most up there have never experienced, without inside A/C. And it does matter, previous experience that is. It is still hot to me in Tempe, but I am not quite as likely to die walking to my car as when I first moved here. I have adapted some. But up north? Unlike anything a lot or most have ever felt, even in a hot tub.
And as noted above while it would be optimistic to say to oneself, “Self, almost fifty percent of citizens have A/C, it will be ok!”, one only needs to look at Texas to see how an unprepared grid could collapse and leave nobody, zip, nada, with any A/C at all. In that scenario we are talking many more millions of citizens with no A/C facing record shattering temps with coastal humidity.
So in layman’s terms, 112 and humid. Another way to look at it, imagine Atlanta on a typical July day, only for some reason, Atlanta effing hates you.
And if you are hoping for the good Old Days to return, well.. From the earlier link:
Pacific Northwesterners can expect this heatwave to extend into the middle of next week, with the National Weather Service tweeting that record high temperatures are forecast to run through Thursday. However, the sweltering heat may become increasingly normal in coming years.
(University of Washington Professor Kristie ) Ebi said this extended “heat dome” is a taste of the future for the Pacific Northwest as climate change reshapes weather patterns worldwide.
Now to this point I have focused primarily on humans. But if you have pets, obviously, prioritize their safety. Sadly, not every woozle and pootie have humans they own. Please remember these vulnerable lives as well.
Emerald City Pet Rescue is a well-known organization not currently doing adoptions, but may be doing pickups or assisting vulnerable animals in other ways. In any case please don’t hesitate a millisecond to help any human or animal in need
For our two legged human friends, this link from KIRO gives information about Fisher Pavilion and other locations to cool down for those lacking housing or A/C.
And if you are a housing challenged male with a pet, the shelter at 420 4th Ave. accepts you and your woozles and pooties though it may be limited to one, call for details.
I also encourage the commenters to add further resources below and I thank you in advance for helping me make this diary useful to those in need.
This is just a taste my fellow human beings. Just a taste. This along with isolated areas of the Kansas City metro getting up to 15 inches of rain this weekend, earlier storms, with a future suggestive of no more hurricane offseason makes it clear that if humanity does not act fast, like yesterday, like ten years ago, like gets its collective head extracted from its hindquarters, times like these will be remembered as the Glory Days.
(With thanks to J.L Wallace, Terry Skinner and Ken Ball, Keith Forsey and Harold Faltermeyer, James Pankow, and Bruce Springsteen. Hey I had to get a smile out of you somehow, in the midst of sadness, songs help!)
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