First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
As prolonged and prodigious heat wave continues to bake Burbank, forecasters officially extend excessive heat warnings to confirm what was initially feared — the oppressive conditions will continue beyond Labor Day.
The change means at least one extra day of high temperatures that have already toppled some records and prompted statewide Flex Alerts calling for energy conservation to prevent strain on the state’s power grid.
Several heat records were set on Wednesday, with the mercury hitting 112 degrees in Burbank, breaking the record of 108 set in 2017 for Aug. 31. In fact, that temperature topped a record for the month of August in Burbank. The previous high for the month was 111 degrees, set on Aug. 26, 1944.
In response to the unprecedented heat wave, the city of Burbank will open a cooling center at the Buena Vista Branch Library Meeting Room, 300 N. Buena Vista St. The Cooling Center will be open on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m., and on Sunday, Sept. 4, and Monday, Sept. 5 at 11 a.m.
The Verdugo Pool will also operate under extended hours.
“We are anticipating this extreme heat to be a length and duration the likes of which we haven’t experienced in some time,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. “Yes, we’re used to record-breaking temperatures, maybe a day or two, more episodic, but this is an extended period.”
The National Weather Service confirmed that prediction Thursday by extending excessive heat warnings for most of the region through 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The warnings were originally expected to expire Monday night.
“High pressure will persist over the area creating a prolonged period of very hot conditions with minimal coastal clouds,” the NWS said.
“Triple digit heat is expected for many valley and mountain locations through early next week including coastal areas during the Sunday and Labor Day peak. This heat may be record-breaking and will produce a very high risk of heat illness.”
“Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors,” the NWS urged. “Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.”
Forecasters also urged residents to be aware of the signs of heat stroke and to take precautions.
“Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside,” according to the NWS. “When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location.”
Overnight lows will not offer much relief either, staying in the 70s and even in the low 80s in some of the hotter areas.
The California Independent System Operator, which manages the power grid, called for a Flex Alerts on Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. The alert is a call for voluntary power conservation to lessen the strain on the statewide electrical system.
More Flex Alerts are anticipated over the weekend, particularly on Sunday and Monday, which are forecast to have the highest electricity demand.
“With excessive heat in the forecast across much of the state and Western U.S., the grid operator is expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use, and is calling for voluntary conservation steps to help balance supply and demand,” according to Cal-ISO.
During the alerts, residents are urged to take power-saving steps such as setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoiding use of major appliances, turning off unnecessary lights and avoiding charging electric vehicles. Residents are also advised to pre-cool their homes as much as possible, and close blinds and drapes to keep interiors cool.