Record temperatures more typical of summertime will sear the Southwestern states this week, and some residents will be forced to find alternate means to cool off amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Records already began to fall on Thursday, with Santa Barbara, California, obliterating their previous record high for the date of 82 degrees Fahrenheit set in 1995 as the thermometer soared to 92. This was also the first time the city broke the 90-degree threshold this year.
As the heat began to ramp up in Southern California, city officials in Malibu reminded residents on Thursday that all beaches, parks, trails and parking areas in the city remain closed, and they urged people in neighboring communities to not travel to Malibu amid the warm weather.
The city of Malibu plans to utilize the Wireless Alert System (WEA), which is similar to Amber Alerts, this weekend to spread this message to all cellphones within range of cell towers in Malibu, according to a post on their Facebook page.
“The City urges Malibu residents to help protect our seniors and vulnerable people by staying safe at home to slow the spread of coronavirus, and enjoy the outdoors locally in your backyard, walking or cycling in your neighborhood,” a statement on the city’s website said.
Los Angeles County residents were also asked to stay local and not visit Ventura County beaches and parks, despite some stay-at-home restrictions being eased in that county.
Friday featured more hot weather in Southern California with 80s along the coast and 90s just inland–highs more typical of August. Downtown Los Angeles recorded a high temperature of 93, tying their previous record high of 93 set in 2001. San Diego tied their record high for the date of 83, which was last recorded in 1995.
Offshore winds, or winds coming from the direction of the north and northeast, have contributed to the summerlike temperatures across the region. From this direction, air flows down the mountains of Southern California and then off the coast. When air descends, it compresses and heats up.
A change in the wind direction, with the air coming in more from the Pacific, allowed temperatures to be shaved a few degrees on Saturday and will do so even more on Sunday. For example, the high in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday was 93 and is expected to drop to 87 on Sunday. The city’s normal high for late April is 74.
At the same time, the heat is expected to intensify farther east across Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and West Texas.
Record high temperatures will continue to be challenged across much of the Southwest into midweek as highs trend 15-20 degrees above normal.
“Phoenix, which recorded its first and second 90-degree days of the year on Wednesday and Thursday, will likely record its first day of triple-digit heat on Sunday,” Gilbert said.
In fact, Phoenix could experience near-record temperatures each day through Wednesday of this week.
Las Vegas will feel the heat cranking up on Sunday with a forecast high in the middle 90s, perhaps reaching the upper 90s to near 100 by Tuesday and Wednesday.
New marks in the history books could even be made in the higher elevations, such as Flagstaff, Arizona, where daytime temperatures in the middle to upper 70s Monday through Wednesday would be near-record territory.
Albuquerque, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, are among many other cities expected to experience multiple days of near-record heat during the early and middle part of next week. These areas will be at greatest risk of wildfire spread in the short term.
The first heat wave of the year can catch people off guard if they do not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from heat-related illnesses.
Any outdoor exercise or strenuous labor should be completed during the early morning or evening hours if at all possible to avoid the hottest times of the day (midday and afternoon hours). Whenever outdoors, drink plenty of water, wear a hat and sunscreen and stay in the shade as much as possible.
Remember to never leave children or pets in a sealed vehicle for any length of time.