Northwest cooling down after record heat

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By RYAN KOST Associated Press Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Pacific Northwest has begun a gradual cooldown after days of record and near-record heat.

Though temperatures around the region haven't reached as high as they did earlier in the week, Thursday is still uncomfortably warm through much of the region.

Portland is likely to peak somewhere near 100 degrees — six degrees shy of Wednesday's high. Seattle will land in the mid-90s after it bested its all-time high of 100 by three degrees Wednesday.

As of 5 p.m., Eugene was almost 20 degrees cooler than a day early: 87 at the airport versus 106.

"It's still going to be pretty hot inland through the Willamette Valley," said Tiffani Brown, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "Not as hot as it has been, but still pretty unlivable, really."

Thermostats will continue to drop, leveling off near 85 by the beginning of next week in Portland and the mid- to high-70s in Seattle, Brown said.

In Portland, Becky Leonard was happy for the cooldown, however slight.

"It feels very refreshing," she said. Refreshing, of course, being relative — she was still sweating.

Leonard and Damien Gill own and run a food cart along Southwest Third Avenue in Portland. For the past couple days they've been closing up at 3 p.m., about three hours early, she said. "The hottest part of the day is at 6 p.m. We didn't want to be here at all.

"It's sort of like ... Ya' know when you park your car in the sun?"

Still, she and Gill are rolling with the heat; they changed up the menu a bit. New to the dessert board: ice cream sandwiches. Key lime pie is selling the best.

"It's a new flavor we just got," Leonard said. "We're super pumped about it."

In Olympia, Wash. a construction crew worked on a new credit union office despite the weather.

The previous day's record triple-digit temperatures shut down the job site at noon, said Frank Krieger, an assistant superintendent.

"Your brain kind of cooks underneath a hardhat," he said.

Thursday's heat — about 83 degrees in the early afternoon — was mild by comparison, even for a guy dressed in full work clothes.

"And today's a cool breeze," he said. "Big difference."

Associated Press Writer Curt Woodward contributed to this report from Olympia, Wash.

(Copyright 2009 The Associated Press)

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