Cooling down will be no sweat

August 01, 2002 12:00 am

By LENORE RUTHERFORD

Going camping? Jackets and sweat pants might be in order this weekend as surprisingly cool temperatures come to Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

The cooling trend is the result of a thicker than average layer of fog and low clouds over the ocean, which may get even thicker over the weekend as remnants of a tropical storm moves inland, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Smith, based in Sacramento.

"We are having a big cool-down today in Sacramento," he said, "but for you, it should mean a more gradual cooling over the next few days."

He said a cool-down is not as unusual for August as it might seem. "This usually happens once or twice during the summer," he said, "but the contrast between this and typical hot August weather always surprises people."

Smith said high temperatures in the foothills should be in the 80s Friday and Saturday and 70s by Sunday. That's a big change from the triple digits and 90s that have been typical highs in the foothills the past few weeks.

Wednesday's highs included 102 in Moccasin and Angels Camp, 100 in Copperopolis, Jamestown and Columbia, 94 in Sonora, 97 in Tuolumne, 96 in San Andreas, 91 in Groveland and 90 in the Phoenix Lake area.

The high temperature was 87 in Pinecrest, at an elevation of about 5,600 feet.

Low temperatures this weekend are expected to be mostly in the 50s and 60s at lower elevations and dip into the 40s above 4,000 feet.

This mornings lows were in the 60s at most foothill locations.

The cooling weather has good and bad implications for firefighters, said Battalion Chief Richard Imlach of the California Department of Forestry.

"This will make fighting fires easier," he said. "They won't spread quite as fast, and we won't have to worry quite as much about firefighters suffering heat exhaustion, dehydration and all of that kind of stuff."