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Heat wave: How hot will it get in California this weekend?

Parts of California and the southwestern US will be under excessive heat warnings this weekend, with records likely to be broken.

California braces for weekend heatwave

California is bracing for a potentially dangerous heatwave this weekend with temperatures expected to beat state records in some areas. Much of the southeastern United States will be hit by searing temperatures on Saturday and Sunday, leading the National Weather Service to issue excessive heat warnings across the southern Plains, the Desert Southwest and central California.

Southern California has been placed on a state of alert ahead of the heatwave, which is expected to hit peaks of 117º Fahrenheit (47ºC) in some areas. Overall, temperatures are forecast to be at around 41ºF to 46.4ºF above seasonal averages. The National Weather Service warned that records could be broken in the Los Angeles area, with Antelope Valley, Palmdale and Lancaster expected to beat previous marks for the time of year. In Borrego Springs, the mercury is expected to touch 117ºF on Saturday, while 113ºF is forecast in Palm Springs.

“Intense and long” California heatwave

Inland and desert areas will be most-affected, according to meteorologists. “We’ve had heatwaves before this year, but not as intense or as long as this one,” said Alex Tardy of the San Diego Weather Service.

Last year, a “heat dome” of unusual intensity wreaked havoc on the entire West Coast of the United States and Canada in June. Coupled with a chronic drought, record-breaking temperatures caused numerous wildfires to spring up and the emergency services have warned of similar consequences this time around. The Canadian village of Lytton, 250 km northeast of Vancouver, made headlines when a temperature of 49.6 ºC was recorded, a national record and above anything ever registered in Europe or South America. A wildfire swept through the village a day later, causing extensive damage.

A law is expected to be adopted in California soon to establish a generalized warning system in case of extreme heatwaves, as is the case for hurricanes or tornadoes in other areas of the US.

Heatwaves “most lethal climate threat facing California”

Extreme heatwaves are the most lethal climate threat facing California today. As more and more heatwaves are predicted over the coming years, it is critical to public health that we help Californians prepare for them, especially the most vulnerable people,” said California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

In 2020, temperatures reached 49.5°C in Los Angeles County, causing incredible strain on the emergency services, who had 10 times as many callouts as under normal conditions, officials behind the project stated.

Due to greenhouse gases generated by human activities, mainly by fossil fuels, the planet has already warmed by around 1.1ºC since the pre-industrial era. In California, average temperatures during the summer are now 1.6ºC higher than they were at the end of the 19th century.