Triple-digit heatwave cracks pavement, knocks out power across Portland


PORTLAND, Ore (NewsNation Now) —In Portland, record temperatures are causing roads to split, power outages, and increased risk of fires across the city.

Residents experienced temperatures above 100 degrees for the third day in a row, smashing records all across the region. Many places were expected to exceed 110 degrees.

In Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes Portland, nearly 60 outreach teams have worked since Friday to reach homeless people with water, electrolytes and information on keeping cool, said county spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti.

The county had 43 emergency department and urgent care clinic visits for heat illness from Friday to Sunday. Typically, there would be just one or two, Sullivan-Springhetti said.

Commuter trains had to be shut down after electricity lines that power those vehicles melted about an hour outside of Portland.

A road seemingly buckled under the heat in Dayton, southwest of Portland, cracking straight across. Crews are forced to wait for temperatures to drop before they can start fixing the pavement.

Tiffany Prather said she was making dinner in the kitchen and her husband Andrew was in his office when the entire house started shaking. 

“We both just blurt like, ‘Did you just feel that?’ And it was kind of like, felt like something like maybe somewhere like hit a brick wall,” Tiffany described. 

The couple went outside to investigate and that’s when they saw the massive crack running through the road near their house.

“It’s been funny because it’s kind of a tourist attraction out here, people have, people have been like pulling over and going up to and taking pictures. It’s kind of comical,” Tiffany said. 

The Oregon Department of Transportation said in general, roads and bridges in Oregon are built to withstand the kind of heat the region has seen the last few days. 

Mark Lago, from Yamhill County Public Works, said this is the first time he’s seen something like this and he believes it was the heat. 

Power outages have hit thousands of residents across Portland as grids become over taxed. Portland General Electric reported over 5,000 people lost power on Sunday.

There’s also a growing concern about wildfires as small brush fires ignite and Americans stock up on summer fireworks.

The region was devastated last summer by fires all across the state.

“People really need to be aware of their surroundings and there’s going to be a lot of people outdoors,” said Northwest Fire Prevention Specialist Michael Starkovich. “Just try to keep that fire prevention thought in your mind, as you go out to enjoy yourself and find some relief.”

The heat wave was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.

Cooler days are on the horizon though with temperatures expected to dip back into the high 90’s Tuesday.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KOIN contributed to this report

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