California prepares for weekend heat wave

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webmaster | 06/28/13

A scorching heat wave moving into California this weekend will bring higher than normal temperatures to Madera all week, peaking Monday and Tuesday.

The beginning of the week will see the highest temperatures, with 107-degree heat expected each day, said Gary Sanger, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Hanford.

The highest recorded temperature on July 1 in Madera is 105, a record set in 1999. July 2’s record is 101 degrees, set in 2002. The coming heat wave might blow those records out of the water, Sanger said.

“We have a strong high pressure system moving into California from the desert southwest. We also have high sun angles, with the summer solstice last week the sun is at it’s highest in the sky, providing stronger heating. Plus clear skies, all the ingredients come together for above-normal temps,” Sanger said.

California could see temperatures hit 120 in the deserts as a massive heat wave rolls through the West, authorities said.

The National Weather Service issued excessive-heat warnings through Sunday night for areas from Santa Barbara County south to the Mexican border. Forecasters expected triple-digit highs in many areas — even above 5,000 feet in the mountains.

Excessive-heat watches starting during the weekend were also posted for the 450-mile length of the Central Valley from Bakersfield north to Redding, and advisories were issued for interior valleys of the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay region, where highs are expected to range from the 90s to 105.

Experts warned people to stay out of the sun, wear broad-brimmed hats outdoors, drink lots of water and avoid putting pets and children in parked cars where the temperature can quickly soar.

Drivers who might find themselves stuck in a hot car should carry extra sunglasses, water, snacks and any prescription medications they may need, said Ken Kondo, a program specialist with the Office of Emergency Management of Los Angeles County’s Chief Executive Office.

“You never know what could happen,” he said.

The hottest temperatures in California are expected on Saturday and Sunday before beginning to ease, but it still will be above-average through Tuesday, said NWS specialist Stuart Seto.

The high pressure system was centered over New Mexico but was moving westward.

“It’s a huge one,” Seto said. “We haven’t seen one like this for several years, probably the mid- to late 2000s.”

The pressure causes air to sink and warm, drawing down humidity. “As the air warms, it can hold more moisture, and so what that does is take out the clouds,” Seto said.

The California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid, expected to cope with any surge in demand from the heat.

Demand usually drops on weekends as office buildings and some manufacturers shut down, and if there’s a surge, the system can bring more generators online and call a Flex Alert, where some customers voluntarily reduce their usage, spokesman Steven Greenlee said.

“We’ve been preparing all year for the summer,” he said. “At least for the short term ... it looks like we’re going to be OK.”

However, Greenlee said the long-range forecast is for above-average temperatures through August. The grid also could be stressed in case of a disaster.

“All we need is another big wildfire or two that’s going to take transmissions lines out,” he said. “That’s the risk that all of a sudden can turn not very good pretty fast.”

 

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