Record-breaking Whatcom County heat to continue through Saturday

Watch families cool off at Splash Days on Third Street in Blaine

Children and their families cool off in hose spray at Splash Days on Friday, Aug. 12, in Blaine.
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Children and their families cool off in hose spray at Splash Days on Friday, Aug. 12, in Blaine.

A pair of decades-old Bellingham heat records fell Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18 and 19, on the first two days of a predicted three-day heat wave.

Thursday’s high of 88 degrees broke the mark of 86 set in 1965, according to National Weather Service instruments at Bellingham International Airport. It’s likely that the mercury topped 90 degrees farther inland, although official records aren’t kept for the cities of Lynden and Sumas.

At 1:53 p.m. Friday, the mercury hit 85 degrees, breaking a high of 84 set in 1950.

Meanwhile, a “red flag” warning continues for critical fire conditions as state and local agencies issued total outside burn bans, including recreational fires. In addition, the weather service issued a heat advisory for Whatcom County through 9 p.m. Friday, warning residents to stay cool and hydrated. Heat stress is worse on the very young and the very old, said Allen Kam of the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“It doesn’t look like a lot of areas got much relief last night (Thursday),” he said, noting that overnight low temperatures Thursday were mostly in the 70s.

A high-pressure ridge descending from central British Columbia is bringing low humidity, light winds, and temperatures in the 80s to Western Washington. Temperatures are expected to ease into the low 80s by Saturday. Overnight lows will be in the 50s and 60s.

That should change by Sunday, Aug. 21, as winds shift from east to west, bringing cooler ocean air to inland areas. Daytime highs should drop to a more seasonable low 70s.

“It’s like Mother Nature’s air conditioning,” Kam said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty