Humid Heat Wave in California

Photo from

Susie Gastelum

The heat wave that has hit California began on Friday August 14, 2020. According to the National Weather Service, this heat event may be a greater problem than the deadly seven-day heat event that happened in July 2006. 

 Recently, Southern California was affected by triple-digit temperatures as well as lightning strikes that caused brush fires. This has resulted in unhealthy air quality, meaning the air becomes stagnant and traps emitted pollutants, which increases surface ozone.  Breathing the air when quality is this low can trigger asthma attacks as smoke is a serious medical hazard.

In mid-August, Death Valley reached a temperature of 130 degrees; one of the hottest temperatures to ever be recorded there. A thunderstorm hit the South Bay Area in Sonora, Mexico, sending an invisible wave of uplifting pressure north through the atmosphere where it mixed with the heat and moisture which caused lightning strikes across hundreds of miles of the Bay Area. It then created dozens of fires, while farther inland a tornado formed. 

As of August 31st, up to 100 fires started due to lightning. One of the fires took place in Ventura County and burned 3,000 acres and is only 20% contained according to the Ventura County Fire Department. Another fire that occurred during this heatwave took place in Riverside County and burned up to 33,424 acres and was 90% contained as of September 3rd.   

This Labor Day weekend is going to be another hot one with temperatures predicted to reach 105 degrees, so make sure to drink plenty of water, stay out of direct sunlight as much as you can, limit physical outdoor activities, and wear loose, light-fitting clothing.  Stay cool Sultans!