'This should be a wakeup call:' King County officials share concerns of expected future heat waves

Monday marked one-year since Seattle saw some of its hottest temperatures on record, and King County officials warn similar heat waves may become a normal occurrence for Western Washington summers.

On June 28, 2021, Seattle experienced the highest temperatures on record

King County officials say the dangerous heat wave in 2021 had a tragic impact on the community: at least 30 people died in the country from heat-related causes. 

"Not only do we expect more heat waves from here on out, but the heat waves we do see will be longer and more intense. So, this should be a wakeup call," said King County Public Health Officer, Dr. Jeff Duchin

On Monday, Duchin and several other King County officials discussed last year’s heat wave, and their hopes for the future.

Officials say they are looking into dealing with increasingly high summer temperatures. County officials say their focus includes looking into enhancing shaded areas in urban environments, increasing public access to green space, working on older buildings to make them cooler, as well as several other areas. 

Since 2021’s heat wave, officials say they have worked on developing ideas and strategies, but there are no official plans in the works.

"It’s come down to a resourcing issue, and we’ve been working over the last year to get the resources necessary to get the work done," said King County Climate Preparedness Program Manager, Lara Whitely Binder.

Whitely Binder says the county has applied for a $120,000 FEMA grant. She says she is hopeful to have a more developed plan by next summer.