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Originally published July 1, 2013 at 10:03 PM | Page modified July 1, 2013 at 10:31 PM

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Heat record broken, but cooler temperatures on the way

Seattle sizzled in record-breaking heat Monday, but relief is near, meteorologists say.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The sizzling heat in the Puget Sound area over the past few days can’t compare to the sauna that was Las Vegas and Phoenix, but it was hot enough Monday to break the Seattle record for July 1.

The temperature reached 89 at 6 p.m. Monday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Burg. Seattle’s official weather data is recorded at the airport.

The old record for July 1, 87 degrees, was set in 1995. The weather service issued an extensive heat warning for the Seattle area until 11 p.m. Monday, which meant that residents should take extra precautions when working or spending time outside.

Monday was the tail end of a three-day heat wave, and though Monday’s high broke a record, it was actually cooler than on Sunday, when the high was 93. No records were broken on Sunday, which was 3 degrees cooler than the record for June 30 set in 1995.

The Seattle area was just at the edge of the heat wave that has been broiling the West, said University of Washington atmospheric-sciences professor Cliff Mass. Other Western states, including California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, experienced triple-digit temperatures. Las Vegas has gone days without dipping below 90 degrees.

Hot weather isn’t that unusual for this time of the year in Seattle, though our highest temperatures usually come at the end of July, Burg said.

“This is summer, and we get heat waves,” Burg said. “We usually get up around 90 degrees at least a few times every summer.”

Because many homes in Western Washington do not have air conditioning, the heat prompted the city of Seattle to offer cooling centers in libraries, Seattle Center facilities and senior centers.

“Hot weather isn’t frequent in Seattle, so it’s important that we make sure we’re enjoying it safely,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in a news release about city services during a heat wave.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) closed the University Bridge once an hour Monday for about 10 minutes at a time to flush the structure with water to keep it from getting too hot.

When the bridge gets too hot, it expands, which results in maintenance problems, according to SDOT.

The state Department of National Resources declared a statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands starting Monday and until Sept. 30. The ban applies to all forest lands in Washington under fire protection, which does not include federally owned land, according to the DNR.

The worst of the heat is expected to be over by Tuesday, when marine air will push in and knock temperatures down, Mass said. Then temperatures will steadily decrease until Friday’s expected high of 73.

The forecast for the Fourth of July calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 79 degrees and 10 percent chance of rain, according to the weather service.

The heat wave follows an unusually warm June, Burg said. The average high temperature recorded at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was 73.8 degrees, about 4 degrees above normal.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2517 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com

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