ELMA — With a forecast for near-record heat on Thursday, Michelle Landon of Hoquiam packed the Suburban full of kids and floating contraptions and headed east to where it was even hotter.
The Vance Creek County Park ponds, she said, were a perfect place to beat the summer scorcher.
“I think this is the best spot,” Landon said. “Any time there is a nice day, we’re here.”
The day called for plenty of sunscreen and lots of water and hydration. While Hoquiam didn’t set a record for the date with a high of 83 degrees, The National Weather Service said Quillayute (89 degrees) set a new record and Olympia (96 degrees) tied the record for the Aug. 16, 1967. Seattle also tied a record (91 degrees) set only last year.
Other highs Thursday included 100 for Vancouver Airport and 97 for Shelton.
“Summer’s finally here,” proclaimed Stephanie Gannon as she headed out to the Elma Ponds for an afternoon of floating and tanning, swimming and sunning.
A few miles to the northwest, Brett Harrington and his family and friends from Shelton set off down the Satsop River in tubes with coolers and fishing poles to make an afternoon float around a big bend in the shaded river. With record heat back home, the Harrington group was staying cool by camping at Schafer State Park.
“I think the heat is turning people into crazy people,” said Bella Harrington as she waited to get onto the Satsop River. While those who could take the day off flocked to the water or to the shade to beat the heat and record temperatures Thursday, a cooling trend began to move over the coast late in the day, and cooler weather is expected over the weekend.
“I love this weather and wish that it would last longer,” Michelle Landon said.
The ponds, which often are filled with fishermen before the heat of summer comes on, often get a bit crowded on hot weekdays, but the Landon group was out early on Thursday, setting up just before noon.
“Usually when we come, the fishermen leave,” Landon said. Other swimming holes, like Lake Aberdeen, are “even more crowded compared to here. Like yesterday, we swam the whole pond.”
Judging by the Weather Service forecast for Saturday, the ponds won’t be quite as popular over the weekend. The high in Elma tomorrow is expected to drop to 73 degrees with a mostly cloudy day. There is a 30 percent of showers and thunderstorms before 11 Saturday night.
Those unsettled conditions have caused a new weather threat. The Weather Service has issued a “fire weather watch” for the north coastal lowlands, the west side of the Olympic Mountains, the Black Hills and southwest interior lowlands through Saturday night. With a tinder-dry region, lighting “has the potential to start new fires,” the warning said.
By Sunday, the high temperatures are expected to stay in the low 70s until at least to Wednesday, according to the Weather Service forecast for the area.
Across the Puget Sound region and the central part of the state from Olympia to Vancouver, an excessive heat warning remained in effect through 11 p.m. today, and the interior of Western Washington was forecast to have temperatures into the 90s for the second consecutive day.