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Extreme Heat Continues to Hammer Central California. Is There Any Relief in Sight?
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By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 2 weeks ago on
July 8, 2024

The National Weather Service's Excessive Heat Warning will continue through Saturday at least. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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July’s unbearable heat has not inspired any local news reporters to try to fry an egg on the sidewalk, at least so far. Even Sunday’s record-setting high of 114 degrees (the all-time record for July 7) wasn’t hot enough for that.

But make no mistake: The heat wave that slammed into Central California at the start of the month will continue to incinerate the region with heat levels that are dangerous for all living creatures. Even the healthiest among us can get sick from heat-related illnesses, which is why the National Weather Service is maintaining its Excessive Heat Warning through 10 a.m. Saturday.

The National Weather Service expects temperatures to remain above 105 degrees through Sunday and dropping “only” to 104 in Fresno by Monday.

“So there will be some improvement, but it’s not going to be enough for people to really, you know, rejoice,” Hanford-based meteorologist Andy Bollenbacher said Monday morning.

Bollenbacher said the forecast is for a third day of blistering heat today, with a high of 112 after Saturday’s high of 112 and Sunday’s high of 114.

Tuesday’s high is forecast at 109, followed by 110 on Wednesday, 114 again on Thursday, 112 on Friday, 110 on Saturday, and 105 on Sunday, he said.

Record-Setting Daily Averages Raise Heat Risk

The daytime record-setting highs aren’t the only hazard that residents of Fresno and other parts of Central California are facing. The nighttime lows are dropping only to about 80 degrees, which means that people without access to air-conditioning are facing heat stress throughout the night as well, Bollenbacher said.

With the triple-digit heat wave that started on July 1 and shows no signs of letting up, the average daily temperature — it’s the midpoint of the day’s high and low temperatures — has climbed to 93.1 degrees so far this month. If it maintains the current pace, it will bust the monthly average record of 88.7 degrees that was set in 2021.

According to the Weather Service’s preliminary climatological data for Fresno for this month, the temperature average on Sunday was 98 degrees — about 15 degrees hotter than normal, Bollenbacher said.

What’s Going On?

Central California is being baked by an intense heat dome that moved onshore from the eastern Pacific and has parked itself here, Bollenbacher said.

“This time of year when you have the heat dome build up, it can be quite hard to get out of. So, the most likely outcome, or at least the tilt in the odds seem to favor of above average temperatures (temperatures) into the foreseeable future, which will include a couple more weeks of above average temperatures in July,” he said.

Thus far local emergency rooms aren’t seeing a huge influx of patients with heat-related illnesses, officials reported on Monday. And the county morgue, which struggled to handle a surge in deaths during the deadly heat wave in 2006, hasn’t had to resort to using its backup trailer in the parking lot, spokesman Tony Botti said.

Some deaths that might not be recorded strictly as heat-related are still related to people seeking relief from the heat. So far this year the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has reported eight drownings: three in rivers, two in lakes, two in ponds, and one in a canal, Botti said.

In 2021, when Fresno recorded its hottest summer ever, there were four drownings, followed by 13 in 2022 and 16 in 2023, he said.

How to Stay Safe?

Know that river water is cold and can be fast-running, and be familiar with hazards such as underwater snags. If you don’t know how to swim, wear a life jacket and fasten it properly before entering the water.

On land, limit your time outdoors throughout the day but particularly in the mid- to late afternoon periods when temperatures peak. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing, seek out shade whenever possible, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Pay attention to small children and pets for signs of heat illness.

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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