Intense heat wave takes aim at the West over long weekend
Thursday, August 31, 2017, 3:36 - A significant late-season heat wave is taking aim at the West over the Labor Day long weekend, as temperatures climb well into triple digits under a strong ridge of high pressure.
Excessive heat watches and warnings are already in place for much of western California and Oregon, ahead of this period of dangerously high temperatures.
Temperatures more than 20°F above normal are expected beginning on Friday, and continuing through the long weekend. Many locations are expected to approach or even break high temperature records during the period.
During this prolonged period of extreme heat, overnight lows are expected to stall in the upper 70s or even the low 80s for many, meaning there will be very little relief after sunset.
Widespread poor air quality due to wildfire smoke, particularly over parts of northern California and the Pacific Northwest, will cause additional health concerns during this event. Combined with the stress from prolonged heat, poor air quality can cause significant respiratory distress in vulnerable individuals, particularly during time spent outdoors or when windows are open.
The prolonged period of hot and dry conditions coupled with some gusty winds has also lead to an increased risk for new wildfires to spark across the region. Under these conditions fires can spread very rapidly and any outdoor burning is considered extremely dangerous.
Heat related power outages will also be a concern for locations like Los Angeles, where the power grid will be under additional strain from cooling systems.
While this heat persists, it is important to make appropriate preparations to avoid illness or injury. Stay hydrated, and limit outdoor activities as much as possible. Do not leave children or pets in vehicles. Seek out air conditioned locations, especially during the hottest part of the day. Be cautious of hot surfaces such as asphalt or exposed metal. And be sure to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbors and relatives.
The focus of the hottest temperatures is expected to slowly shift northward into the Pacific Northwest as we move into next week, though above normal temperatures will be the rule everywhere west of the Rockies. Unfortunately very little significant relief from the heat is expected in the days ahead, as this stagnant pattern lingers into early September.