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Heat wave brings record temperatures as people try to stay cool

People keep cool around town in record-breaking heat

As temperatures reached 90 degrees in the area, people found local places to keep cool in Olympia and Lacey.
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As temperatures reached 90 degrees in the area, people found local places to keep cool in Olympia and Lacey.

Wednesday’s sweltering heat narrowly defeated a 17-year record and set a new one: 88 degrees. That number is 2 degrees warmer than the previous record of 86 degrees set in 2002.

This week’s heat wave also managed to surpass Tuesday’s daily record of 86 degrees, set on June 11, 2002. Tuesday’s high hit 87 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

Wednesday started warm; by 9 a.m. it was already 70 degrees — a rarity here in the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures continued to climb throughout the day, reaching the peak of 88 degrees around 4 p.m.

People around the area took advantage of the early summer, finding shady places and water activities to keep cool throughout the day.

Jenna Boncek brought her young son to the man-made stream in East Bay Public Plaza, adjacent to the Hands On Children’s Museum. The shallow water beckons toddlers to splash around. At 10:45 a.m. the place was already packed.

“We come down to the museum pretty regularly, and the streams are a pretty fun way to stay cool,” Boncek said. “But we plan to be inside for the hotter part of the day. Luckily, we have air conditioning.”

People also fled to one of the only public access lakes in the area for swimming and sunbathing: Long Lake.

Earlier this year the park removed the dock at Long Lake Park, citing safety reasons, but that didn’t seem to keep anyone away or dampen the mood. As soon as the school bells rang, the lake was crowded with students and families floating, boating and splashing.

A group of high school girls traveled all the way from Tenino and Rochester on their first free day of summer to beat the heat. They said Long Lake is the most popular place to go for swimming and they had spent most of the day there trying to keep cool.

“It was so hot that when I got my shorts out of the dryer this morning and put them on, I had to go outside because it was actually burning my skin,” one of them said.

Most students in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, however, were stuck inside classrooms for much of the day. But the school calendar didn’t stop a group of Capital High School sophomores from playing hooky and soaking up the sun.

The three students went boating and played in Heritage Park Fountain, one of downtown Olympia’s favorite water spots. They said they couldn’t pass up a day of beautiful weather, especially here in the Northwest.

“It was busy,” one of them said about the fountain. “A lot of younger kids, but it was still very fun.”

Heritage Fountain, although typically closed Wednesdays for maintenance, was turned on to offer people a break from the heat, according to a city parks representative.

Other cities in the region also broke records Wednesday. Seattle recorded a high of 90 degrees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

But cooler temperatures are on the way. Late-week and weekend high temperatures are forecast in the mid-to-high 70s, temperatures Western Washingtonians are a little more accustomed to.

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