Climate

California Faces A Record-Breaking October Heat Wave

CREDIT: AP Images - Nick Ut

Women in Los Angeles shade themselves as temperatures rise.

California finds itself in yet another heat wave, with record-breaking temperatures reported in several cities and hotter-than-usual temperatures across the state. The National Weather Service has put the San Francisco Bay area and San Diego under a heat advisory and has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the Los Angeles area.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School District cancelled outside activities and sports for the rest of the week due to the heat. This is the second time this school year that LAUSD has had to cancel activities because of high temperatures. All schools in the Long Beach School District had shortened days on Thursday and today because of the hot weather; about 70 percent of schools in the district do not have air conditioning.

On Thursday, downtown Los Angeles reached 92 degrees by noon. The average October temperature for Los Angeles is 79 degrees. Several cities in Southern California broke record temperatures. Oxnard reached 98 degrees on Thursday, breaking an almost 70 year old record, while Santa Barbara saw a new high of 94 degrees. Inland temperatures are expected to be as high as 106 over the weekend. The record high temperature for the Los Angeles area is 108 degrees, which occurred in 1987.

And it’s not just high temperatures that Californians are facing. Fire warnings have been put place throughout the Los Angeles area, thanks to the high heat and winds that could reach 50 miles an hour. The Los Angeles Fire Department has pre-deployed firefighters in high risk areas, including the University of California Los Angeles campus. The Los Angeles county fire inspector Randy Wright said that people should be prepared to evacuate. Earlier in the fall, the King fire in Eldorado National Forest in Northern California burned over 97,000 acres and required over 8,000 firefighters to combat it.

In September, Southern California faced another large heat wave, with temperatures reaching into the 90s in Los Angeles and into the 100s in San Diego. September’s heat wave led to over 100 schools shortening their school days and over 20 athletic events and practices being cancelled. Consumers in Los Angeles also set a record for daily energy use as people tried to cool down with air conditioning.

The heat waves in California may be part of a larger pattern. Earlier this year, California broke a 120 year record for heat, with temperatures 4.6 degrees hotter than average. Climate scientists believe that the higher-than-average temperatures are strongly connected to man-made climate change. A report by American and British climate scientists found that human-based climate change has “clearly increased the severity and likelihood” of heat waves.

Amelia Rosch is an intern for ThinkProgress.