Northern California Heatwave Layers on Top of Drought


It’s almost summer in Northern California, and that means intense heat waves, long droughts, and the specter of more wildfires. Recent weather conditions in the northern part of the Golden State have led to seasonal wildfires that devastate the landscape and send people fleeing from their homes. This year, the main concern is the intensely high temperatures, with recent highs cresting over 100 degrees.

Thankfully, only a few wildfires are blazing in the region at the time of this writing, and they currently all appear to be well-contained. However, if the windy, hot, and dry conditions keep up, local fire departments fear the blazes could spread uncontrollably. Meanwhile, excessive heat warnings are in effect for much of Northern California.

The Dangers of Heat Waves

Constant exposure to high temperatures is very dangerous. If you are under an excessive heat warning, you are encouraged to stay inside in air-conditioned buildings. One of the most dangerous times during a heatwave is at night. When people spend all day in the hot sun and then fall asleep in a hot room, their risk for heatstroke goes way up. Since you’re asleep while your body temperature is rising, you might not realize that you’re in danger until it’s too late. As such, it’s recommended that you sleep in a cool room with a light blanket and keep the fan on.

High Temperatures Astonish NorCal

The city of Redding, California, hit a daily high of 109 degrees on Memorial Day, setting a record for the city. Sacramento saw temperatures near 105 over the holiday, even as parts of the US are experiencing unusually cold weather for early June. On Memorial Day in New York, for instance, the temperature hovered around 50 degrees.

The worst part about the heatwave for NorCal is that it coincides with the yearly drought that hits the region in early summer. Rivers, lakes, and reservoirs throughout the region are critically low, leading to calls for residents to use as little water as they reasonably can.

Notably, the snowpack at the peaks of Northern Californian mountains is currently all but nonexistent. This snow is a critical part of the region’s water system, and without it, the region will likely struggle to get through a long, hot summer. There is some reprieve on the horizon, though: a front approaching the region could spawn thunderstorms that will bring cooler temperatures and alleviate the drought all at once.