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August, 2021 -- Vol. 115, No. 12
Scroll down to read this issue!

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read the special centenary retrospective!


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As verified by the Portland National Weather Service office, this trusty Taylor thermometer at our Southeast weather station shows the heat wave’s final peak at 116° on Monday, June 28.
As verified by the Portland National Weather Service office, this trusty Taylor thermometer at our Southeast weather station shows the heat wave’s final peak at 116° on Monday, June 28. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

MY, that was warm.

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

With summer officially beginning only days earlier, an unprecedented “heat dome” set up over the northern Oregon border for the last week of June – beginning with cloudless skies and rapidly cranking up sizzling, almost unbelievable, desert-like summer heat.  

We don’t really need to remind you of the unprecedented temperatures for Portland posted by the National Weather Service (NWS) Portland office at the airport, because you probably remember them only too well! But, for the record:

June 25: 94°

June 26: 108°  (breaking our old all-time record of 107°)

June 27: 112°  (breaking yesterday’s all-time record of 108°)

June 28:
116° (at 5:02 p.m., breaking yesterday’s record of 112°)

June 29: 92°

That 116° reading was the second-highest temperature recorded in the entire United States on June 28 – second only to the 117° reading 45 miles south, in Salem!

The landmark heat wave finally broke shortly after the peak of 116° on Monday, June 28, when a shift of the east wind around to the west brought in cooler coastal air, and a drop of over 25 degrees in less than three hours.

By Tuesday, June 30, the daily high was a pleasant 78°; and for many days afterward Portland did not even touch 90. But the damage was done, and in a city where many people have not yet invested in air conditioning, dozens of deaths were attributed to the three days of heat, which also singed many trees and plants, turning green foliage brown.

‘Heat Dome’ blamed for temperatures
Although summer officially began on June 20, temperatures usually don’t rise to uncomfortable levels (the 90’s) until August or September. And never in local records have they ever risen even close to the record-breaking temperatures recorded June 26-28.

To learn more about what caused this unprecedented heat wave, we turned to NWS Meteorologist Rebecca Muessle: “You’ve probably heard the term ‘heat dome’, used to describe the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve experienced over the past few days.

“One can think of a ‘heat dome’ as the total opposite of a winter ‘polar vortex’. Instead of a low barometric pressure center bringing in cold air from the north, the ‘heat dome’ is a high pressure center that builds up over the area,” Muessle told THE BEE.

“Usually, the ground at lower elevations will warm under clear skies during long summer days – but it’s moderated by cooler temperatures aloft at, say, 5,000 feet,” Muessle explained. “But, with hot air moving from the desert southwest up into Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, the area above us of hot air was very deep; giving us a ‘double-whammy’ of warm air.”

In addition, the meteorologist added, there was a “thermal low” off the coast, delaying cooler marine airflows from dislodging the heat bubble. “Because the onshore westerly flow wasn’t there, we saw very little reprieve for three days,” Muessle said.

A sweltering summer?
The National Weather Service’s three-month outlook, issued on June 17, predicted “above normal temperatures” for most of the west.

“Our probability of warmer-than-typical temperatures over the summer is about 40% –partly due to the fact we’re already seeing warm temperatures,” explained Muessle. “But, this early onset of record high temperatures and the warmer trend does not mean we’ll be revisiting these record temperatures all summer long!”

By the way, had that little low-pressure system not finally arrived west of Portland on June 28, we now know what our high would have soared to on Tuesday the 29th, and it was truly scary. The little British Columbia town of Lytton, 40 miles northeast of Vancouver B.C., had been within a degree of Portland on each of our three record-setting days – but that little low pressure system took another day to get up there and start cooling things down.

On Tuesday, June 29, Lytton in British Columbia soared to 121 degrees Fahrenheit, which is now officially the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada.

So, but for that welcome little low pressure system arriving on the coast, Portland would have reached 121 or 122 degrees on Tuesday! Instead, it was 93 degrees here – and was the last 90-degree day in the first half of July. The casualties among people and vegetation from experiencing over 120 degrees here can only be imagined.

By comparison, the highest daily temperature ever reliably recorded anywhere in the entire world is 134 – and it was at aptly-named Death Valley, California. Portland would have been within a dozen degrees of that on Tuesday, had not the weather broken Monday night.

THE BEE suggests that may be time for us all to consider installing air conditioning!

Below is a slide show of photos of people dealing with the heat -- taken by David F. Ashton, Rita A. Leonard, Paige Wallace, and Elizabeth Ussher Groff -- in our record-smashing heat wave!


Image: 
Woodstock Library opens as ‘cooling space’; stays open

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

When Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury ordered that many of the still-closed Multnomah County facilities – including the Woodstock Branch Library – be opened to be “cooling stations” starting on June 29, the record-breaking heat wave had already passed. Inside the Woodstock Branch visitors will find a rack of bottled water was near the door, ready for the taking.

When THE BEE asked if the Woodstock Branch building would remain open, returning library services to Inner Southeast after the long pandemic closure, Multnomah County Library Communications Manager Chelsea Bailey told us, “Yes, Woodstock will remain open with normal hours, along with seven other branches.”

Inside the Woodstock Branch, a few patrons came in, but not necessarily for an air-conditioned respite, or hydration. Instead, they were browsing books and checking out materials.

A question raised by this branch opening is when the Sellwood Branch Library would reopen to the public. “We are working as swiftly as possible to get all of our branches reopened for basic services. We’ll open at least 75% of libraries by the end of July,” Bailey told THE BEE.

At THE BEE’s deadline, Ms. Bailey circled back with welcome news for many Inner Southeast residents: “I’m happy to share that we have a confirmation on Sellwood-Moreland Library's reopening date! It will be Tuesday, August 3.”



Cameron and Emily Martine told THE BEE they were happy to learn that the Woodstock Branch Library is now to be open with regular hours after the long pandemic closure. The pair rode in on bikes from the Richmond neighborhood.
Cameron and Emily Martine told THE BEE they were happy to learn that the Woodstock Branch Library is now to be open with regular hours after the long pandemic closure. The pair rode in on bikes from the Richmond neighborhood. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Woodstock Branch Library Youth Librarian Brianne Williams and Library Assistant Sally Li – ready to provide all who stop in with water and air conditioned comfort, along with all the library services they’ve missed during the library’s long pandemic closure.
Woodstock Branch Library Youth Librarian Brianne Williams and Library Assistant Sally Li – ready to provide all who stop in with water and air conditioned comfort, along with all the library services they’ve missed during the library’s long pandemic closure. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
An officer examined the damage done to this GMC Safari in the Foster-Powell neighborhood – from the second of two Inner Southeast crashes involving the same truck.
An officer examined the damage done to this GMC Safari in the Foster-Powell neighborhood – from the second of two Inner Southeast crashes involving the same truck. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Accidents magnify into ‘road rage’ finale in Foster-Powell

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Two traffic accidents between a van and a truck, one after another, led in the end to both drivers receiving East Precinct traffic citations on Wednesday afternoon, July 7, in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.

The driver of the van – it was a GMC Safari – was later identified by police as 34-year-old Rawland Strong. He spoke with THE BEE at the location of the second crash. He said that the vehicles had first collided on westbound Powell Boulevard, just east of S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses. He said that the other driver left the scene in his truck, continuing west on Powell, and he followed.

Looking up the incident record, Portland Police spokesman Lt. Greg Pashley confirmed his version the story up to that point.

The truck then turned south onto 73rd and then east on Center Street. Strong said he’d hoped to find the truck again, so from westbound Powell he turned south on 74th Avenue, and then headed west on Center Street. Again, Lt. Pashley confirmed that part of the story.

According to Strong, the driver of the truck intentionally rammed him, mid-block on S.E. Center Street, pinning both vehicles at the south curb. Strong also declared that the truck’s driver verbally threatened him, before ramming the van away from his vehicle, and taking off southbound on 74th Avenue. Strong depicted himself as the innocent victim of this odd incident, although that part of Strong’s account apparently could not be confirmed by officers.

What was confirmed was that the slowly-fleeing truck was apparently followed by a bicyclist, who witnessed the crash, and the aftermath in which the truck dragged an axle – leaving a visible trail as it scraped the pavement as it left the second accident scene. The truck made its way south and west, until ending up about a tenth of a mile away, at the eastern dead-end stub of the 8100 block of Raymond Court, behind the Harbor Freight Tools store.

“An officer located the truck, driven by 23-year-old Dacoda Weaver,” Lt. Pashley said.

After interviewing multiple witnesses, and viewing video taken on a smart phone by at least one neighbor, both drivers were cited, Pashley told THE BEE. “Strong was cited to appear in court for Reckless Driving, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Criminal Mischief II and other violations.

Weaver was also cited to appear in court, for Failure To Perform the Duties of a Driver – Property Damage (Hit and Run) – and other violations.

“There are two sides, plus witness accounts, to every story,” reminded Pashley. “The investigating officer believed there was probable cause to cite both drivers, as indicated, because he believed they’d each committed those crimes.”

But it remains one of the few accidents THE BEE has reported lately in which both drivers were cited for similar offenses – which certainly could be the definition of a true “road rage” incident.



The relentless series of all-time local heat records scorched many a Portland garden – including the Rose City’s namesake blossoms, which normally bloom unimpeded throughout summer.
The relentless series of all-time local heat records scorched many a Portland garden – including the Rose City’s namesake blossoms, which normally bloom unimpeded throughout summer. (Photo by Paige Wallace)

The Southeast weather so far in 2021: Hoo, boy!

By ERIC NORBERG
Editor, THE BEE

We have been keeping daily precipitation records for well over twenty years at our Southeast Portland location, and report on the results from time to time. Although our records are mainly of rain, snow, sleet, ice, etc., we have space on the form for other weather observations of note, and the first half of this year that space is entirely filled up.

Although since February this year has been pretty dry, there certainly has been notable weather – RECORD weather – to keep track of.

When we came to Portland almost half a century ago, winter ice storms were common, and we well remember the January of 1979, when at the start of the month, right after a snowfall, the temperature plunged into the single digits – and stayed below freezing continuously for almost a month. Chunks of ice were floating through town on the Willamette River. Fortunately there was no more precipitation until the temperature finally rose above 32 degrees, but hitting 32 felt so WARM after weeks of freezing weather.

In recent years, ice storms have been few and far between; but four days in February this year were a major exception. On the 12th, the official Portland low was 27 degrees, and the sun arose on a half inch accumulation of sleet and snow – continuing as sleety snow until noon. There was a total of 3.5” on the ground at THE BEE at 5 p.m.

On February 13, the low was 24 degrees and there was snow and freezing rain overnight; in Southeast Portland, there was a total of 5” on the ground at THE BEE, with a strong ice barrier 2” down. The high was 30 degrees.

On February 14, the overnight low was 28 degrees. The Portland Airport recorded 10 inches of snow, and there was no TriMet service. Southeast experienced light sleet and snow, and there was 1/8 inch of ice on twigs and branches. The high was 32 degrees.

Finally, on February 15, we recorded a steady overnight temperature of 31.5 degrees until past 9 a.m. There was a quarter to a half inch of ice on vegetation, but melting began around noon, when the temperature had risen to 41 degrees. However, this four-day streak of ice and snow left boat slips collapsed near the Sellwood Bridge and dozens of boats sunk there, under the weight of the ice – and the same ice caused the collapse of part of the Powell Les Schwab store’s roof and the total collapse of two gyms at Reed College, among other things.

After that things began to warm up and dry up. On March first Portland had the first 60 degree daily high since the previous November; on March 31 came the first seventy-degree daily high temperature, at 72 degrees. On April 17, the daily high was 84 degrees, making it the first temperature over 80 for 2021 – and April ended as the driest April on record in the Rose City.

June 1 was the first day this year with a daily high over 90, when it hit 95 degrees. But that was just the beginning of the hottest month ever in Portland; the previous hottest temperature ever recorded in the Portland area was 107. A “heat dome” moved over the Northwest in late in the month, resulting in heat advisories from Northern California up into the Arctic Circle, and Portland was in the bullseye. On June 26, a new all-time record temperature was set, at 108. On June 27, that record fell, replaced by a new all-time high of 112. And on June 28, that record fell, replaced by a new all-time Portland high of 116 degrees!

But shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday, June 28, a small low pressure system moving up the coast began to push cooler ocean air over the coast range into Portland, and over the next four hours our temperature dropped by some 25 degrees.

So much for the first half of 2021: The precipitation total for the first half of the year in Southeast Portland was 14.82 inches, all but 2.34 inches of it limited to January and February.

So, what can we expect in the second half of the year? Were the first six month just a harbinger of weather catastrophes to come between here and December – or have we used up all the unusual weather for the year? It’s impossible to know. The extremely dry spring and early summer certainly has led to another year of massive wildfires in the West, including here in Oregon.

It would be nice to have a little rain.



California Lutheran University student Seal Gosnell said she enjoys being home for the summer and working as a lifeguard at the Sellwood Pool.
California Lutheran University student Seal Gosnell said she enjoys being home for the summer and working as a lifeguard at the Sellwood Pool. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood Pool opens – closes during heat wave – reopens

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

After being closed for its entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the iconic Sellwood Pool finally reopened to the public for the first time since the fall of 2019 on June 22 – a joyous day for both its staff and local swimmers.

Other than last year, this outdoor swimming pool, now operated by Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), has been in annual use since 1910. Splashing around, enjoying the water features, and taking swimming lessons at the pool, have been part of the history of many Inner Southeast families for generations.

“We’re so excited to be back, and open to the public, even if we’re a little bit more restrictive in our regulations and our rules now than we have been in the past,” grinned Pool Manager Teresa O’Loughin, as another “Open Swim” period was about to begin.

A difference from previous seasons is that, this year, guests must register in advance, online, for a spot – walk-ins are not permitted at this time. “Also, our ‘Recreational Play Swims’ are currently an hour long, giving us time to clear the pool and sanitize the areas to reset for the next session. All of our ‘Lap Swims’ and ‘Water Exercise’ sessions are also by online reservation only, too.

“We’re still running with about half the staff; we have some 35 folks here as we are starting up; so we’re keeping our swimmers’ numbers down [how many people may be in the pool during one session] from what you might have seen in the past. “

Swimming lessons were scheduled to begin on June 28. However the record-setting heat wave postponed those sessions for a few days. Indeed, many swimmers and splashers were deeply disappointed to find PP&R’s outdoor pools, as well as some of its indoor pools, were closed just when they were needed most – during the height of the sweltering, record-breaking heat wave at the end of June.

“After several lifeguards experienced heat-related illnesses on Sunday, June 27 – including one who required a 9-1-1 call – PP&R closed all outdoor pools to protect the staff and guests from the extreme 116 degree heat on Monday, June 28th,” explained the Parks Bureau’s spokesperson, Mark Ross, about the heat-related closure.

“Due to the extremely high outdoor temperatures, we didn’t reopen the pools until Tuesday, June 29,” Ross told THE BEE. “In addition, several indoor pools had to be closed during the heat wave, too, due to heat-related equipment failures.”

While PP&R plans to have its cool pools open for the remainder of the summer, “The outdoor pools may close if extreme heat again makes conditions too dangerous for guests and staff,” Ross said.

To sign up for a swim, lessons, or for more information, go online to the Sellwood Pool’s official webpage – http://www.portland.gov/parks/sellwood-outdoor-pool

Here’s a brief BEE video of the water fun resuming in late June, at the Sellwood Pool: 


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