The Washington State Department of Health has identified one death that was likely heat-related in Clark County, bringing the total statewide to 78 deaths.
The unprecedented heat wave that took place throughout the Pacific Northwest from June 26 to July 2 resulted “in a high to very high risk of heat-related impacts/illness for much of the population, especially those that are heat sensitive and those without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration,” stated a news release.
In comparison, there were seven heat-related deaths reported in Washington from mid-June to the end of August in 2020. From 2015 to 2020, there were a total of 39 deaths during the warmer months of May through September.
“This huge jump in mortality due to heat is tragic and something many people thought they’d never see in the Pacific Northwest with its mostly moderate climate,” said Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist. “But climates are changing, and we see the evidence of that with dramatic weather events, major flooding, historic forest fires and more.”
Nineteen counties throughout the state reported heat-related deaths, with the majority taking place in King and Pierce counties, which saw 24 and 13 deaths, respectively.
The numbers are preliminary and could change. The statewide count of deaths often lags behind the counts of local health departments.
DOH is waiting on a number of “pending” deaths where a cause has not yet been reported.
A near final count for heat-related deaths won’t occur for at least a month, stated the release.