Where the Heat Wave Broke Records in California

You probably don’t need me to tell you that it’s been hot in California.

A West Coast heat wave that began last week led to a scorching Independence Day and, for many, an even hotter weekend. A ridge of high pressure over much of the West is trapping hot air — and baking Las Vegas, the Pacific Northwest and large parts of the Golden State.

Though California’s coasts have largely been spared the worst of the heat, several areas near the coast set daily temperature records over the long holiday weekend, meaning some communities had their hottest July 4 (or July 5 or 6) in history. Among at least two dozen places in California that broke daily records last week were San Jose, Fresno, Oakland, Merced, Livermore, San Rafael and Paso Robles.

On Friday and Saturday, when the heat wave peaked in most of the state, at least three cities recorded their highest temperatures for any date.

Up north, temperatures in Redding, the Shasta County seat, soared to 119 degrees, and Ukiah, closer to the coast in Mendocino County, tied its all-time high of 117. In Southern California, Palm Springs hit a never-before-seen high of 124 degrees.

“This is a record-breaking heat wave,” Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an online news conference over the weekend. Some people in the state, he said, had seen “not only the hottest day they’ve ever experienced but also the hottest day that their parents or grandparents ever would have experienced.”

Though records tend to capture attention, the bigger concern is how long the extreme heat lasts.

The heat wave began on Tuesday, and it is expected to persist through this week, with temperatures 15 to 30 degrees above normal, the National Weather Service predicts. That means people without air-conditioning will have had little or no respite for nearly two weeks, not even at night, when temperatures have remained unusually high.

The longer these conditions last, the drier the state’s grass and brush will become, steadily increasing the risk of wildfires. More than 50 wildfires have already erupted in California since the heat wave began, including a large blaze in an inland area of Santa Barbara County that had swelled to more than 20,000 acres by early Monday.

And it’s not just California. “The extremely dangerous heat wave in the West is forecast to continue and expand across the Northwest and into the Northern High Plains over the next few days,” the Weather Service said on Sunday. “Dozens of daily record temperatures are forecast to be tied or broken into the workweek.”

James White, a meteorologist at the Weather Service’s office in Eureka, said that most climate models were showing above-average temperatures in his northwest region of the state for at least the next 10 days. Though temperatures will be slightly cooler than over the weekend, many inland areas will still be hitting the triple digits.

“That’s still what we’d qualify as moderate to even major heat risk,” White told me.

For more:


Last year, Cameron Luther, who was 23, spent months fixing up a 1966 butterscotch yellow Porsche in Monterey as part of a deal to buy it from its 94-year-old owner. Luther commuted five hours from his job in Santa Monica to work on the car, which he said was the kind he always wanted.

Read the full story in The Times.


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Halina Bennet and Luke Caramanico contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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