Dangerous heat wave in US southwest brings triple-digit temperatures and fire risk to California

Sacramento, California. — (TodayNews) — After a historically wet winter and cloudy spring, summer in California was in full swing on Thursday as a heatwave that scorches much of the US Southwest brings triple-digit temperatures and increased risk of wildfires.

There will be adverse conditions Friday and throughout the weekend in central and southern California, where many residents must brace for the hottest weather of the year, the National Weather Service warned.

Most midday highs are expected to be above 100 degrees (37.7 C) with desert areas in the 120s (48.8 C), according to forecasters. Some relief was expected at night when temperatures could stay in the 80s (above 26.6°C). Excessive heat watch was in effect in inner counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo until Sunday.

“Please plan accordingly, this is not the time for hiking or long time outdoors,” the Los Angeles weather service said on Twitter. “If you have to work outside, shift your clocks to early in the morning, take frequent breaks and drink water!”

Employers were reminded to comply with regulations that require outdoor workers to get water, shade and regular breaks to cool down. The state will conduct spot checks at workplaces to make sure regulations are being followed, said Jeff Killip of the Occupational Safety and Health Division.

The National Weather Service said on Wednesday that more than 111 million people were under extreme heat advisories, watches and warnings in the US, mostly in the southwest.

Forecasters said the prolonged heat wave is extremely dangerous, especially for the elderly, homeless residents and other vulnerable populations. The heat may linger into next week as the high pressure dome moves west of Texas. In Arizona, the temperature reaches 110 degrees (43.3 C) for more than a dozen days in a row.

The race was canceled at the California State Fair near the state capital due to animal safety concerns.

Meanwhile, California’s wildfire season has been building on a backdrop of hot, dry conditions, with a series of fires breaking out across the state this week, Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said.

“As we approach summer and the vegetation that grew during the wet spring dries up, we are seeing a spike in wildfire activity,” Crowfoot said Wednesday at a state media briefing.

Crowfoot said global climate change is “charging” heatwaves. California has put in place a $400 million extreme heat action plan to protect workers, help vulnerable communities, and help local communities reopen cooling centers.

Officials said the state’s power grid, which has been overwhelmed to the extent of widespread power outages in recent years, has been strengthened and should be able to withstand the latest heat wave. The California independent system operator that manages the power grid said battery capacity reached 5,600 megawatts on July 1, enough to power more than 3.8 million homes for four hours before recharging.

“Batteries added to the grid are charged during the day when solar power is plentiful, and shipped mostly during the evening hours when demand is still high and the sun is setting and solar power is decreasing,” Cal ISO said in a statement.

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