The time has come. This is the week that Oregonians dive into the dark corners of their medicine cabinets seeking that collection of half-used sunscreens. It’s the week they rifle through closets for last season’s short-sleeve Oxfords and knee-length skirts.
This is the week the Birkenstocks come out.
Portland logged its first 80-degree day of the year on Monday, and could near 90 degrees by Friday, as warm weather and dry skies crowd the forecast.
“We just get in a certain weather pattern that gives us pretty warm conditions,” said Tyree Wilde, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’re going to stay warm for several days.”
The average high for May is 66 degrees, with a few 80-degree days mixed in as a promise that winter has passed. On average, Portland will get four of those in May. A review of 95 years of weather data, Wilde said, that first 80-degree days usually comes on May 8th.
“We’re head for upper 80s this weekend,” he said. “I’m sure we drop back down and get cooler. We won’t lock into this pattern.”
“When we get heat like this earlier in the year, we’re all more susceptible because we haven’t acclimated. And it’s harder on us. It’s going to be more of an impact. People won't be acclimated, which could lead to heat exhaustion or illness.”
Health officials ask residents to check the expiration date on their sunscreen, pull out their hats and fill their water bottles.
The elderly, young kids, and folks with health conditions have a harder time with heat so be sure to help them keep cool and hydrated, said Tri-County Health Officer, Dr. Paul Lewis
“Also be sure to check on your neighbors and make sure they have what they need,” he said.
Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Steve Dangler also asked residents to take special care when visiting local rivers, which move faster and colder as the winter snow melts.
Dangler said people get in trouble when they jump into unexpectedly cold water without testing it first. When the body hits, the cold water shocks the system. A person might gasp, sucking water into their lungs. Then they risk drowning.
People also fail to gauge how swiftly currents run in spring, Dangler said, and overestimate their ability to get from one side to another.
“Test the water first and know your limitations,” Dangler said. “Enjoy the water and all that the Northwest has to offer. But take precautions. Safety is absolutely paramount when the weather is warm and the water is cold.”
A few fun facts from the National Weather Service
Earliest 80-degree day in Portland: March 16,1947
Average number of days in May that reach 80 degrees: 4
Earliest Portland has seen a 90-degree day: April 30, 1998
Warmest day in the month of May: 100 degrees, recorded in 1983
Average date Portland hits 90 degrees: June 20th.