A sweltering heat wave that gripped nearly the entire state of California intensified on Sunday ahead of extremely hot and potentially record-breaking temperatures this week that could strain the state’s power grid, exacerbate fire conditions in Northern California and smother the Bay Area in unhealthy air.
California officials issued energy conservation and air quality alerts Sunday morning as a punishing heat wave continued to grip the Bay Area and much of the rest of the region. ‘State. Rising temperatures are expected to peak Monday and Tuesday, when much of the South Bay and inner parts of the Bay Area could easily exceed 100 degrees in the longest and deepest heat wave. intense from Northern California so far this year.
“It’s like a marathon, not a sprint,” said Sarah McCorkle, a National Weather Service meteorologist, while advising residents to take precautions and stay out of the heat. “For the year, this is probably the most significant heat event we’ve had so far.”
The NWS extended an excessive heat warning through Wednesday for much of the Bay Area, including San Jose, the East Bay Hills and Contra Costa County. A heat advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for areas closer to the coast, including the San Francisco Bay Shore and the Marin Coast.
The forecast sent throngs of people flocking to the cool, windy beaches of San Francisco, which were teeming with people seeking refuge from the region’s dizzying heat. While temperatures in the rest of the Bay Area were expected to hit the 80s and 90s, the city known for its fog-filled summers stayed in the mid to upper 70s.
“It’s a relief,” Rudy Rivera said as he sat in his cooler flipping burgers on a portable grill in Baker Beach. He and his family woke up at 5am on Sunday for the hour and 45 minute drive from Stockton as temperatures at home were expected to hit the mid-100s on Sunday and get even hotter next week.
“I usually take my family to Frisco for sure,” he said. “Just to get away. It’s cooler. The environment is better. It’s an escape.
Even residents of South Bay, who were dealing with temperatures reaching near 90s on Sunday, made the trip north to the city.
“We came early because we thought there would be a lot of people,” said Agostina Albamonte, who made the trip from Mountain View with her two children. “It’s kind of awesome and amazing and more relaxed for kids.”
California’s independent system operator issued another flexible alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, which asks residents to minimize their energy use to prevent overloading the state’s power grids. The alert comes as the brunt of a sweltering heat wave takes hold in Northern California, pushing temperatures 10 to 25 degrees above normal for much of the region and increasing the risk of heat stroke.
The utility regulator expects power consumption on Sunday to peak around 5:30 p.m., with Californians using nearly 45,700 megawatts of electricity during that time. That’s only about 3,000 megawatts below the state’s current capacity.
— California ISO (@California_ISO) September 3, 2022
Spare the Air alerts were also issued for the Bay Area on Sunday and Monday, which means residents can expect unhealthy air conditions on both days due to dangerously high ozone and pollution levels. Air quality is expected to be worst in Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
The warnings came after a trough – or area of low pressure – moved through the region on Saturday, delaying the main event of a heatwave that was previously expected to peak on Sunday and Monday. As a result, the hottest weather is not expected until the end of the Labor Day weekend.
When that happens, several Bay Area cities could be downright scorching. Several daily heat records could fall in stride.
Livermore and Concord could see temperatures hit 90 degrees on Sunday before reaching or exceeding 110 degrees on Monday and Tuesday. The heat wave could potentially wipe out the city’s previous high temperature of 108 for September 5 and 6, which were set in 1950 and 1904, respectively. On both days, the city is expected to reach 112 degrees.
Temperatures across San Jose are expected to range between the 80s and mid-90s on Sunday before peaking at 102 on Monday. If forecasts hold, the city could beat its previous record of 99 degrees for September 5, set in 2008.
Oakland is expected to be in the low to mid 80s on Sunday before jumping to low 90s the next two days. San Francisco is expected to be in the mid to high 70s on Sunday before temperatures hit the low to mid 80s on Monday and Tuesday.
In an ominous sign, National Weather Service meteorologists said upper level air temperatures over Oakland broke a record for Sept. 4, reaching 84 degrees at an elevation of 5,000 feet. It is about 1.5 degrees warmer than the previous record for that date.
— NWS Bay Area 🌉 (@NWSBayArea) September 4, 2022
Cooling centers have been opened throughout the Bay Area, including at least a dozen in and around San Jose. Most are expected to remain open at least until Wednesday.
Hot weather has further exacerbated fire conditions across the state, forcing firefighters to rush to numerous blazes over the past few days. In Weed, the Mill Fire destroyed dozens of homes on Friday while burning more than 4,200 acres; it was 25% contained on Sunday morning. Also in fire-ravaged Siskiyou County, the Mountain Fire has burned over 6,400 acres and remains 5% contained.
Tinder-like conditions from Sunday’s heat wave were already sparking local fires in the South Bay.
An early morning wildfire broke out just before 8 a.m. on Mt. Hamilton Road near the upscale Grandview Restaurant in a building dating back to the 1880s.
Fire crews were able to put out the one-acre blaze in about 30 minutes, CAL FIRE spokesman Josh Shifrin said. He added that the heatwave has forced firefighters to add hydration crews to their shifts, which provide shade and cold drinks. Crews are also working on a different schedule to reduce their exposure to heat.
“When it’s great like that, it’s harder for firefighters to work in those conditions,” he said. “We need to increase our cycle of work and rest. We can’t wait 24/7. We have a kind of recovery. A few downtimes. But we still have our mission.