By Suzannah Gonzales

 

(Reuters) - Residents of the U.S. Pacific Northwest were enduring sweltering heat on Wednesday as temperatures smashed records and hit triple digits in a region better known for rain and mild weather.

 

Portland had a high of 103 F (39 C) degrees on Wednesday, meteorologists said, well above the 80 F (26.6 C) that Oregon's most populous city typically sees this time of year.

 

The city last experienced such heat in July 2009, when temperatures hit 106 F (41 C) degrees.

 

On Tuesday, three communities in Oregon set temperature records for that date - 101 F (38 C) in the state capital, Salem, 99 F (37 C), in Troutdale and 83 F (28 C) in Astoria.

 

Records were also falling farther north in Washington state, where the high temperature at the Seattle airport hit 90 F (32 C), on Wednesday, breaking the city's previous high for this date of 89 F (31.6 C) set in 2009.

Temperatures on Thursday were also expected to surpass the record high of 90 degrees.

"We'll have no problem smashing that," said Art Gaebel, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle.

Gaebel said that while high temperatures were typical in Seattle during the last week of July and first week of August, Wednesday also marked the 45th day in a row the area had seen no rainfall.

He forecast that the city would topple the all-time record of 51 days without rain, which was set in 1951.

The heat was expected to persist in the Seattle area for the next several days, Gaebel said.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Patrick Enright and Peter Cooney)