Marissa Smith of the 4-H Club waters down Rose to keep her cool at the barn at Emma Prusch Farm Park in San Jose, California, on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Temperatures are expected to hit triple digits as California's most severe heatwave in a decade peaks today. (Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group)
By Mark Gomez | firstname.lastname@example.org and Eric Kurhi | email@example.com | Bay Area News Group
UPDATED: June 22, 2017 at 11:14 am
California’s most severe heat wave in a decade is expected to peak Thursday as temperatures soar into triple digits around the state, including in several Bay Area cities.
The National Weather Service has issued heat warnings Thursday for much of the Bay Area, where temperatures are expected to reach 107 degrees in Concord and Livermore, 101 in Gilroy and 97 in San Jose.
At 9:15 a.m., it was 95 degrees in Livermore, according to the weather service.
Although no cities in the Bay Area are expected to set new marks for high temperatures, cities in the Central Valley may experience record-setting heat. If the forecasts hold true, Sacramento (110 degrees forecast) and Stockton (109 forecast) would set new records for June 22.
The Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton is offering free admission today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Horse racing was cancelled Thursday at the fair, where temperatures are expected to reach 107 degrees.
“It’s going to be a scorcher for sure,” said Brian Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Overnight lows Wednesday hovered in the upper 70s in many Bay Area cities. At 3 a.m. Thursday, some sites in the North Bay hills were still above 90 degrees, according to the weather service.
Weak onshore winds mean that the ocean won’t cool off the Bay Area, as usual. The heat is due to a persistent high pressure system that is creating heat by compressing air in the American west and southwest, said Will Pi, a forecaster with the weather service.
Santa Clara County officials said the recent string of hot days was responsible in the deaths Monday of two San Jose residents, 72-year-old Dennis Young and 87-year-old Setsu Jordan. One of the San Jose residents who died was homeless and inside a car, according to county officials.
Advocates were not surprised to hear that one of the people who died on Monday was homeless.
“The city dodged a bullet when nobody died in the flood,” said Shaunn Cartwright, a San Jose advocate for the homeless who was distributing water bottles downtown Wednesday night. “Well, a homeless person already died in the first heatwave and that should weigh heavily on their conscience. Sweeps and walls harm and kill people who lose their belongings and shelter.”
She said there are fewer cooling centers this year and they don’t allow possessions or pets inside, discouraging many from going.
Pastor Scott Wagers of CHAM Deliverance Ministry said high heat is particularly dangerous for the many homeless people who have existing medical conditions.
“You have people who are diabetic, and pre-diabetic,” he said standing outside the Macredes camp earlier this week. “There’s one woman in the camp who has leukemia.”
Cartwright said they gave out five cases of cold water Wednesday night. She said the average age of recipients was about 50, they “ran into a group of seniors, a woman with a walker and sickle cell waiting for a blood transfusion, an amputee, a man devastated by divorce who just lost his job at a local gym.”
“It was weird,” she said, “ we just got lots of ‘god bless yous,’ ‘oh! nice and cold!’and ‘got any food? i’m hungry’ — nothing about cooling centers or how hot it was.”
Cartwright said her group is going out again Thursday at 5:30 p.m., heading out from St. James Park. This time with water and something to eat, too.
“People were really hungry last night and we didn’t have food,” she said.
Sizzling conditions in Sacramento, where temperatures Thursday are expected to hit a record-setting 109 degrees, have affected the USA track and field outdoor championships at Hornet Stadium. Event organizers have re-scheduled many events by one hour earlier in the morning and one hour later in the afternoon and evening. Still, the junior women 200 meter finals is scheduled today at 2 p.m.; the men’s and women’s 10,000 meter run, the longest events of the competition, are scheduled for 9:27 p.m. and 10:09 p.m.
In Oakland, the A’s play the Houston Astros at 12:35 p.m. The temperature is expected to be 88 degrees.
Slightly cooler conditions are expected Friday, with temperatures about six to 10 degrees cooler than Thursday. The real break is expected this weekend, where temperatures will max out in the low to mid-80s, according to the weather service.
To beat the heat Thursday, many Bay Area cities are offering cooling centers to help beat the heat, especially for vulnerable populations.
Local hardware stores have seen increased sales in fans and air conditioning systems in the past few days, with average sales surpassing the usual 20-30 units sold per week, according to a representative from the Orchard Supply Hardware in downtown San Jose.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in fan sales,” said one representative from the Hassett ACE Hardware in Willow Glen. “We actually ran out of them in our warehouse the other day because sales were so high.”
The last severe heat wave, which the weather service dubbed “the remarkable heat wave of July 2006,” claimed the lives of at least 100 people in California, many of them elderly.
Officials with PG&E expect localized power outages Thursday, the result of equipment failure due to the scorching temperatures and increase in electricity flowing through its lines. Early Thursday morning, there were just a handful of reported outages, according to PG&E’s website.
Between Friday and Tuesday, more than 236,000 of the company’s 5.4 million electrical customers in California lost power. More than 118,000 of the affected customers were in the Bay Area, though power had been restored to all but 1,230 by Tuesday evening.
“The outages we’ve seen over the last few days were a result of the severe heat impacting equipment and causing transformer failure,” PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said. He compared the spike in temperatures statewide to a “summer storm,” adding that searing temperatures can cause equipment failure, resulting in outages.