As Seattle Bakes, Amazon Steps In

Part of its headquarters is now a 1K-capacity cooling center
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2021 7:19 AM CDT
As Seattle Bakes, Amazon Lends a Helping Hand
US Postal Service letter carrier Alexis Chumney takes a long drink in front of a Wedgwood convenience store as temperatures pass a hundred degrees, Monday, in Seattle.   (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times via AP)

Amazon has transformed part of its Seattle headquarters into a public cooling center amidst a grueling heat wave that saw temperatures climb above 100 degrees on Monday for the third day in a row. With a dome of high pressure over the Northwest, Seattle hit an all-time record of 108 degrees by Monday evening, per the Seattle Times. It was also the first time on record that the city has had three consecutive triple-digit days, per CNBC, which notes the city previously had only three days above 100 degrees in the last 126 years. As fewer than half of city residents have air conditioning, according to census data, Amazon offered to turn the Amazon Meeting Center at its South Lake Union campus, which previously served as a pop-up clinic for administering COVID-19 vaccines, into an air-conditioned cooling center.

It is by far the city's largest cooling center, capable of holding 1,000 individuals. Seattle is promoting this and about three dozen other cooling centers opened at senior centers, community centers, and libraries, not to mention various pools and splash pads, to help residents beat the abnormal heat. June, which brings an average high temperature of about 70 degrees, is often dubbed "Juneuary" in the region due to the typical cool drizzle, per the Times. With this heat wave, road pavement is buckling, while drawbridges need to be doused with water to prevent their steel mechanisms from expanding in the heat. "We are not meant for this," but "this is the beginning of a permanent emergency," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC on Monday. "We have to tackle the source of this problem, which is climate change." (Read more Seattle stories.)

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