A stubborn high-pressure ridge over the western United States will keep triple-digit temperatures firmly in place the remainder of this week and weekend.
The National Weather Service predicts the following high temperatures in Sonora from today through Friday: 106, 104, 103, 103, 101.
Overnight temperatures in the low- to mid-60s will provide a modicum of relief.
Those living or visiting higher elevations may also see some relief in the way of clouds and possible midday rain and thunderstorms, as summer monsoon conditions take hold in the afternoons through Friday.
Highs in Twain Harte will range from 74 today to 77 by Friday. The chance of thunderstorms is about 30 percent each day.
The 100-plus temperatures at foothill locations are carrying over from the weekend. High temperatures hit 104 on Friday and 105 on Saturday and Sunday in Sonora.
The record highs for Aug. 11 and Aug. 12 in 1996 were at 109 and 108 degrees.
The hot temperatures drove hundreds of people to area lakes.
Sonora, Twain Harte and Tuolumne public pools closed over the weekend and won’t reopen until next summer, according to Sarah Garcia, activity coordinator for Tuolumne County Recreation Department.
Garcia said county pools normally close to the public this time of year because the high school and college students who staff them return to school.
The recreation department is required under its contract with Sonora High to close the Sonora pool before classes start.
The Columbia Elementary School pool never opened this summer because of a staff shortage, she said.
The Bret Harte Aquatic Center in Calaveras County will remain open to the public through Oct. 31 but will discontinue its summer hours on Aug. 20.
To assist the public during the heat wave, the Columbia Volunteer Fire Department set up its first cooling station Thursday night.
The cooling station is a 35-foot by 35-foot room equipped with air conditioning, bathrooms, couches, televisions and cooking facilities. Water will also be available for the visitors.
“We’re looking forward to helping the people out,” Fire Chief Jim Helms said. “That’s what we’re here for. If it’s a success, we’ll do it again.”
Helms set up the 24-hour cooling station with elderly residents in mind.
According to Dr. Todd Stolp, Tuolumne County public health officer, the elderly are especially sensitive to heat, and high temperatures can worsen underlying conditions such as lung disease and circulatory problems.
Colleen Tracy, the health services agency director for the Calaveras County Public Health Department, recommends checking on neighbors or family members who are elderly or have chronic medical conditions.
Elderly individuals can also visit the Tuolumne County Senior Center, a county-designated cooling facility on Greenley Road in Sonora. The center serves lunch Monday through Friday and hosts activities such as bingo and card games.
The Sonora branch of the Tuolumne County Library is also on the county’s list of cooling spots. The library offer computers, wireless Internet, play areas for kids, early literacy learning stations and various activities.
“There are always lots of things to do here,” said county librarian Maggie Durgin. “There are nice cozy places to sit and read … it’s the perfect place to spend a hot summer day.”
Stolp said Mother Lode hospitals see an increase in emergency visits during the summer, resulting from heat and an influx of tourists.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headaches, cramps, flushed skin and nausea. Heat stroke occurs when a person exposed to extreme heat can no longer regulate body temperature, sometimes resulting in unconsciousness or death.
An individual who shows symptoms should be given a cool bath or cloths, and 911 should be notified immediately, Tracy said.
Animals can also suffer from heat exhaustion, according to Raub Fogel, spokeswoman for the Calaveras Humane Society.
Fogel said pet owners should frequently provide their animals with cool water, ensure that outdoor animals have access to shade and allow pets inside during the hottest part of the day.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion in a dog include severe panting dizziness, a rapid heart beat, a dazed appearance, restlessness, dark red or purple gums and vomiting.
Animals who show signs of heat exhaustion should be submerged in cool water or rubbed down with a damp cloth, and then taken to a veterinarian.
Fogel said that owners should not walk their dogs on surfaces that are too hot for humans to touch.
Neither children nor animals should not be left in a car, even when the windows are down.
To prevent heat exhaustion, Tracy recommends using air conditioning, limiting outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day, avoiding direct sunlight and wearing loose-fitted and light-colored clothing.