Originally published in The San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2013 | Written in conjunction with Chronicle staff reporter Henry K. Lee; photo by Chronicle staff photographer Michael Macor
The blast of heat moving through the Western United States will settle into a slow roast across the Bay Area this weekend, prompting warnings about wildfires and heat-related illness – along with the general irritation of an unyielding sun.
But the punishment won’t be inflicted evenly.
While San Francisco’s Pride festivities will be graced by temperatures in the mid-70s, the result of cooling coastal breezes, the situation in Brentwood can be best summarized by the forecasted highs for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
104. 106. 106. 106.
There, as in other inland cities like Livermore, authorities are recommending that children, the elderly and others sensitive to the sun stay out of it completely. Malls and bookstores are among the suggested escapes.
Farmers in the delta region are taking measures to protect their tomatoes and other crops, while hoping the wave doesn’t linger too long.
“We’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” said Glenn Stonebarger, a partner at G&S Farms in Brentwood.
Parents whose kids aren’t in a big softball tournament in the city are planning sojourns to places like Brentwood’s city pool, which expects to approach its 900-person capacity. There is even concern about the strain of playing 18 holes of golf.
At the nearby Discovery Bay Country Club, where a tournament is on the calendar this weekend, the plan is to distribute 500 “chilled towels” to parched golfers.
“This is going to be bad – we’re not used to this kind of weather,” said club general manager Mark Tissot. “Just don’t come to this side of the (Caldecott) Tunnel. It’s going to be brutal.”
The National Weather Service agreed, issuing a heat advisory for the Bay Area that – so far – extends from Saturday morning to Sunday evening. Too much heat exposure may “stress those that are susceptible to heat-related illnesses,” the advisory says.
Diana Henderson, a forecaster with the weather service, said the same heat wave is affecting “pretty much from Colorado to California.”
Now, that’s hot
Brentwood’s forecast is actually mild compared with some places. The weather service predicts highs above 115 all weekend in Phoenix, and the same goes for Las Vegas.
Death Valley, which recorded the planet’s all-time hottest temperature of 134 degrees on July 10, 1913, might come within striking distance of that – with predicted highs of 128 on Saturday and 129 degrees Sunday and Monday.
“We get used to it, living out here,” said Krista Diamond, who on Thursday was working the front desk of the Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley – which she stressed has air conditioning. “Pretty much anything under 118 you get used to, and it doesn’t seem that bad.”
The heat wave – which is expected to cool down a bit before the July 4 holiday – is hitting the Bay Area on the heels of rare June rain showers earlier this week. The ups and downs can be confusing, even to Northern Californians accustomed to the vicissitude of the seasons.
Changes no surprise
Low-pressure troughs that bring rain are often located next to areas of high pressure that bring heat, “so that’s going to give us real warm weather. They kind of go hand-in-hand.”
In the Bay Area, he said, additional state firefighters will be on duty because of the high temperature and low humidity.
“Unfortunately, we’re already starting to see conditions heat back up,” Berlant said, “and this weekend, with many areas seeing triple digits, the fire danger is going to return right back up to where it was last week.”