California Heat Wave Breaks Records Over Labor Day Weekend


Chloe Wong, Staff Writer

As some of the worst fires in Californian history burn their way across the state, temperatures were at the highest point of the year this Labor Day weekend. Despite fall quickly approaching, firefighters have been battling blazes in Northern California for upwards of two weeks—and with temperatures soaring up to 121° F in some areas of the Los Angeles County on Sept. 6, the wildfires have been more difficult to contain. 

The heatwave has hit locations in the western San Fernando Valley the hardest, according to National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Ryan Kittell, with estimated temperatures in the area landing somewhere around 118° F.  

These temperatures are atypical for the region, which usually enjoy warm but manageable temperatures below 95° F. 

“Heat of this magnitude is rare, dangerous, and very possibly deadly,” the NWS warned, “Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside.” 

The Center for Disease Control also recommends exercising caution when going outside in such temperatures; extreme heat poses dangers such as heatstroke and dehydration and exacerbates symptoms of heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. It may also aggravate respiratory and cerebrovascular conditions. 

But despite these safety measures—notably, the ones that encourage residents to stay inside—not all Californians have been dissuaded from enjoying their three-day-weekend. By midday on Saturday, San Diego and Orange County beaches were already crowded. Lifeguards described conditions as “very busy” and “packed wall to wall”, despite the extreme heat and the potential for COVID-19 spikes. 

Health authorities stated that they were willing to shut the beaches down Labor Day weekend, predicting the crowds that risk flouting pandemic guidelines. Besides the health and safety hazards, rising temperatures also contribute to fire risks. Although Cal Fire stated that firefighters were “making progress” on combating California’s wildfires, dry brush tends to provide fodder for blazes, and strong winds spread flames at a rate that’s difficult to beat. As thousands of firefighters tried to contain two dozen fires across the state, yet another blaze broke out at Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest on Saturday—forcing those nearby to evacuate and jeopardizing the surrounding area.


Photo courtesy of NYTIMES.COM