After a historic winter due to abundant rainfall and a cloudy spring, summer raged in California with a heat wave that skyrocketed temperatures and increased the risk of forest fires after several days affecting the southwestern United States.
Scorching heat will increase Friday and over the weekend in central and southern California, where many people must prepare for the hottest weather of the year, the National Weather Service warned.
Most daytime highs were expected to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) and desert areas could reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 degrees Celsius). There wouldn't be much relief at night, when temperatures could stay above 26.6 C (around 80 F). A heat advisory was in effect through Sunday for inland Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
"Please plan accordingly, this is not the time to be hiking or being outdoors for long periods of time," the Los Angeles office of the weather service said on Twitter. “If you have to work outside, stick to the early morning hours, take frequent breaks, and stay hydrated!”
Authorities reminded employers to comply with regulations requiring outdoor workers to receive regular water, shade and rest to cool down. The state will carry out controls in workplaces to ensure compliance with the regulations, said Jeff Killip, of the Division of Occupational Health and Safety.
Across the United States, more than 111 million people were under watches, warnings and watches, especially in the Southwest, the National Weather Service said Wednesday.
Experts noted that the prolonged heat wave was extremely dangerous, especially for the elderly, the homeless and other vulnerable people. The heat could continue into next week as a high pressure mass moved west from Texas. In Arizona, the temperature reached 110 F (43.3 C) for more than 12 consecutive days.
Horse racing events have been canceled at the California State Fair near the state capital over animal safety concerns.
Meanwhile, California's wildfire season was worsening in hot, dry weather, with several outbreaks declared in the state this week, said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the Natural Resources Agency.
“As we move further into the summer and the vegetation that grew during the wet spring dries up, we see an increase in wildfire activity,” Crowfoot said Wednesday during a state news conference.
Global climate change has “overloaded” heat waves, he explained. California has allocated $400 million for extreme heat actions to protect workers, help vulnerable communities and help people open refreshment centers.
The state's power system, which is so strained that it has suffered widespread blackouts in recent years, has been beefed up and should withstand the new heat wave.
The California Independent System Operator, which runs the power grid, said its storage capacity had reached 5,600 megawatts on July 1, enough to power more than 3.8 million homes for up to four hours before recharging.
“The batteries that are being added to the grid are charged during the day, when solar energy is abundant, and are used mainly in the evening hours, when demand is still high, the sun is setting and solar capacity is decreasing. ”, indicated the entity in a statement.