PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – This weekend, temperatures could climb close to 100 degrees as Oregon marks the one-year anniversary of 2021’s deadly heat wave, which killed about 100 people in the state.

In Portland, some areas of the city are much hotter — resulting in more deaths.

KOIN 6 News talked to Shane Brown, whose mother died in southeast Portland, one of the areas hit particularly hard by the heat wave.

Brown said the air conditioner in his mother’s apartment was not working during the 2021 heat wave. He started to worry when his mother, Jollene Brown, was not picking up her phone so he drove to her apartment and found her in her recliner.

He says her official cause of death was hyperthermia.

“I hope after last year, people take it more seriously, and they’re more aware of how dangerous and how fast it can become dangerous,” Brown said.

KOIN 6 News spoke to Portland State University professor Dr. Vivek Shandas about heat islands, which are areas of the city with a lot of concrete and not a lot of tree canopy.

He said examples of heat islands in Portland are Lents, Cully areas along 82nd Avenue, Old Town and areas along freeways. Those areas can get up to 18 degrees hotter than the rest of the city.
Shandas explained how the heat can impact you even if you are indoors in those neighborhoods, saying “the heat gets absorbed by those walls and goes into the apartment building to balance out temperatures.”

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Portland city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said “it is going to be hot for all Portlanders this weekend, and it will be even more harmful for those living around heat islands. I know many of these areas are in East Portland where there is less greenery. We are addressing heat islands through initiatives like PBOT’s new pedestrian guideline, the Portland Clean Energy Fund, and under the leadership of Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio to grow our green spaces and canopy to these underserved and in need areas of Portland. I encourage all Portlanders to seek refuge from the heat wave this weekend and to check in on their neighbors.” 

Hardesty also highlighted the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s new pedestrian guideline will go into effect July 1.