California braces for dangerously high temperatures in new heatwave
A new heatwave is predicted to bring dangerously hot weather to California’s inland regions this week, as relentlessly high temperatures continue to torment the west coast.
Meteorologists are warning residents to prepare for “potentially record-breaking” temperatures as high as 115F (46C) in the Central Valley and 120F (49C) in desert areas like Palm Springs, with temperatures in Death Valley set to approach an all-time high. The heat is predicted to start to build on Wednesday and increase through the weekend.
“Temperatures are going to be about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year,” said Diana Crofts-Pelayo a spokesperson for the California office of emergency services. “This will be a record-setting heatwave.”
The state is already facing extreme drought and fires spawned by the dry conditions. The fire situation could be intensified by gusty winds near the Oregon border and predicted lightning storms in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the forecasters said.
“The big story is the developing heat,” said Eric Schoening, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service (NWS). “This will be a long duration event, where it is not going to cool down much at night. So it is a dangerous time for the state.”
The warnings follow on the heels of last week’s record-setting heatwave in the normally-cool Pacific north-west, which left hundreds dead in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia from heat-related illness, and as North America emerges from the hottest June on record.
The fact that California’s heat is expected to continue at night raises the risks of heat illness, said Sierra Littlefield, an NWS meteorologist.
“When it’s hot in the day and warm at night, it really wears people down,” she said.
Littlefield said residents should prepare themselves to cope with the heat by drinking plenty of water, postponing outdoor work to the early mornings or evenings and making sure to get animals out of the sun. Residents should plan for a place to go, if it gets so hot they need air conditioning.
“People should know where they can find air conditioning – whether it’s with friends or at a cooling center,” she said.
The state office of emergency services is compiling a website with a list of cooling centers and tips for staying safe in high heat.
Forecasters said that those in the biggest population centers of the state, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, which lie along the coast, will benefit from ocean cooling and not face the extra high temperatures.
One danger state officials are still assessing is whether the heatwave could result in power shortages, said Crofts-Pelayo.
She advised residents in the inland areas to pre-cool their homes, if they have air conditioning, and lower their shades to keep the cool air in. She also asked residents statewide to conserve electricity by shutting off unnecessary appliances.
“What we don’t want is for there to be a shortage of energy that requires power shutdowns,” she said.