Heat Waves Reach California

California Heat Wave (Al Seib, Getty Images)

California Heat Wave (Al Seib, Getty Images)

Elizabeth Wu, Staff Writer

Californians experienced a heat wave with triple-digit temperatures in early September after Europe endured a similar heat wave over the summer. Temperatures rose more than 10-15 degrees than normal.

While California experienced the heat wave in the fall, Europe experienced record-breaking temperatures in July and August, causing emergency evacuations and over 12,000 related deaths. Temperatures rose as high as 116°F, fueling more than 15,000 catastrophic wildfires, which is three times greater than the average per year according to the European Forest Fire Information System. 

These sweltering temperatures in both Europe and California are 10 times more likely to occur due to human-induced activities. Climate change may be a root cause of the increase in the number of heat waves across the world. Research Associates at Grantham Institute believe that the climate has been warmed by 1.2ºC due to human influence.

“I am upset about the heat wave because it points to a bigger, long-term issue of climate change,” sophomore Quinne Davis said. “It also changes my schedule because I try to take my dog on walks in the early morning before school and the evening so he doesn’t overheat.”

Junior Rabbana Bari also expressed her concern as the California Heat Dome approached. 

“I was not prepared for this heat wave and it has been hard trying to figure it out along the way, especially being a hijabi,” Bari said.

David Spector, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, explains how a large dome of strong high pressure is building over the Great Basin and it will shift westward over California Sept. 13-15 and result in temperatures rising well above normal.

“I try to not go outside much,” junior Kyla Tsang said.  “The AC is very cold compared to outside and the huge difference in temperature from inside and outside the classroom gives me headaches. It makes me not want to go outside during breaks, and instead, go to class early.”

The effects of these threatening temperatures stretched out far beyond the discomfort of extreme heat though. As the heatwave poured over our California cities, fires have sprung up too. With over 14 new fires across the state, 4,000 firefighters had been sent to fight these blazes while four deaths had been reported over Labor Day weekend. 

Additionally, California’s energy consumption has spiked due to the searing temperatures and was expected to break the California record of 50,270 megawatts consumed in one day. The California Independent System Operator (ISO) urged residents to decrease their power usage by issuing Flex Alerts. These Flex Alerts urge Californians to set their thermostat to 78° or higher, avoid using extensive appliances and turn off unnecessary lights. 

Not only will these scorching temperatures occur during the day, but the National Weather Service said that these record-shattering temperatures often drag into the night. 

On top of the stifling daytime high temperatures, nighttime lows will not provide much relief as minimum temperature departures also range between 15-30 degrees above normal according to the National Weather Service. 

Orange County and surrounding areas received excessive heat warnings from the National Weather Service until Sept. 9 according to the OCDE Newsroom.