King County Council is looking for ways to better protect people from the next wave of extreme weather after last summer’s record-breaking hot temperatures.
“According to the National Weather Service, heat events are the most deadly weather-related emergencies,” council staff Jenny Giambattista said during Wednesday’s meeting.
King County councilmembers used the meeting to discuss ways of developing a plan to shelter the county’s most vulnerable residents in extreme heat. Vulnerable residents include those who are homeless or living in places without adequate protection from extreme weather, senior citizens, and the disabled.
Breakdown of records set during Washington’s heat wave
Washington state’s heat wave last year was the state’s deadliest weather-related disaster on record with 112 casualties.
Heat-related deaths were reported in 20 counties across the state, according to the Washington Department of Health. The extreme heat claimed 28 lives in King County, the most out of any county in the state.
“Last year, we saw three of the five hottest days in King County history happen, not only in the same year, but in the same week,” District 2 Councilmember Girmay Zahilay said.
The 2021 heat wave was described as a “heat dome,” which refers to warm air extending high into the atmosphere, impacting pressure and wind patterns. The “heat dome” essentially shut off the flow of cool marine air off of the Pacific into the state, according to National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
These types of extreme hot weather events are being exacerbated by global heating.
The council is currently working to identify facilities that could be