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Heatwave breaks a record in South Whidbey

You know it’s hot when 80 degrees seems cool. It’s a lot cooler than 102.

Temperatures have slowly dropped on the island since Wednesday’s scorcher, with the outlook for the weekend a more manageable 80-plus degrees. By the end of next week, island temperatures may be back in the 70s, and maybe get a little rain, forecasters say.

But on Wednesday, islanders shifted into survival mode along with everyone else in the Puget Sound region as temperatures topped 100 degrees in several areas.

A 102 reading was recorded in Bayview.

Fans and air conditioners were snapped up as soon as they came off the trucks at South End stores. Shelves were emptied of inflatable water toys, pools and air mattresses.

People headed for any body of water that would cool them off, including the bathtub. Cooling centers were set up around the area.

“One woman came in yesterday, and she was dripping,” said Chris Hoffmanhill of the Freeland Library. “She heard we have air conditioning.”

Island County Department of Emergency Management designated the Freeland Library as a cooling center, along with the Bayview Senior Center, said David Howlette, director.

Two large air-conditioning units from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor were loaned to the senior center, which stayed open until 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

The Freeland and Langley libraries also stayed open later, as did air-conditioned Langley City Hall.

“The post office lobby across the street is quite nice too,” Cynthia Kaul of Langley Library, said Thursday.

The senior center canceled its Summerfest picnic scheduled for Thursday in Freeland.

“The heat was just too much to deal with,” said Farrell Fleming, executive director. “Almost everyone seemed relieved about the decision.”

Whidbey General Hospital’s emergency room reported two heat-related cases for the hot spell through Thursday.

The highest temperature recorded on Whidbey Wednesday was 102 in the Bayview area, National Weather Service officials in Seattle said.

Langley reported 98 degrees, and Oak Harbor 91, said meteorologist Dennis D’Amico.

Record temperatures were reported in several areas throughout the Puget Sound region, D’Amico said.

“We had 100s all over the place,” he said. “It was a hot one.”

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reported a high of 103 degrees, an all-time record, D’Amico said. Arlington reported a high of 102.

On Tuesday, Sebo’s Do-It Center at Bayview sold all

70 fans in stock, said employee Karen Nelson.

On Wednesday morning, a new shipment of 60 fans and nine air conditioners arrived at 5 a.m. and were gone a half hour after the store opened, she said.

Ace Hardware in Freeland sold about 100 fans on Wednesday, along with air mattresses and inflatable water toys, said manager Gary Ando. A new shipment of 150 fans came in Thursday, he said.

“The phones were ringing off the hook,” Ando said. “Squirt guns were unbelievably popular, but we can’t get any more right now.”

PayLess Foods in Freeland kept up nicely with the demand for bottled water and other beverages, popsicles and other cool treats.

“We’re in good shape,” manager Tom Brown said Thursday. “We were a lot busier earlier, but of course we have air conditioning.”

D’Amico of the weather service said the hot spell was caused by a large high-pressure ridge of hot air and an offshore flow, where air currents headed out to sea instead of their usually cooling tendency to blow landward.

The current weather pattern is similar to two other record-breaking hot spells in the region, forecasters say.

In August 1981, there were five consecutive days with highs in the 90s, and in August 1977 there were

15 consecutive days of highs above 80.

“I’m looking forward to cooling off,” Ando said.

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