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This week’s heat wave, and what we’re doing about it

Seattle is in the midst of a record-setting heat wave, with high temperatures forecast to reach the low 90s each day through Saturday. (You can see the National Weather Service’s latest forecast for downtown here.) Evenings will not offer much respite from the heat. As our climate changes, extreme weather events like this one and last year’s unprecedented heat dome are happening more often and with greater intensity. 

While this might be normal summer weather for other parts of the country, here we are not as accustomed to such extreme heat – and neither are our homes and infrastructure. As of 2019, just 44.3% of Seattle households had air conditioning, and that percentage is lower for households who rent rather than own. Without air conditioning, this heat can be dangerous and even lethal. 

Please visit AlertSeattle for advice on heat safety, a list of air-conditioned cooling centers, resources for the homeless, and more information on the City’s response to the extreme heat. 

Planning for the future 

The extreme heat we’re all experiencing this week is a reminder of the immenseness of the climate crisis and the importance of combating it. OSE is working to address the causes of these extreme weather events and help Seattleites endure their consequences. 

We’re cutting down on the City’s contributions to climate change by transitioning our buildings and transportation away from fossil fuels. By assessing and supporting tree canopy cover, we’re helping to cool down neighborhoods and counter the urban “heat island” effect. We are especially concerned with making sure that frontline communities – those that face especially harsh impacts from climate change, and are often already disadvantaged in other ways – receive their fair share of support from the City. This has motivated efforts including our Equity & Environment Initiative and the Duwamish Valley Program. 

We encourage Seattle residents to take full advantage of our environmental policies by: