NWS heat map

Cooling centers will be open 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. today through Sunday at the Sonora Senior Center at 540 Greenley Road and Groveland Library at 18990 Highway 120 due to a heat wave expected to bring at least five consecutive days of triple-digit heat to Mother Lode foothill towns from Chinese Camp to San Andreas.

Screening for COVID-19 symptoms, physical distancing, and face coverings for staff and participants will be required at the Sonora cooling center, Tuolumne County public health staff said in an announcement Friday morning.

In spite of the ongoing pandemic, county public health staff suggest that air-conditioned public buildings may be available during usual business hours for relief from hot weather.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Sacramento are calling the next five days “a long-duration and extreme heatwave” that’s expected to begin today and last at least through Wednesday next week, with daytime highs above 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day in the Jamestown, Sonora and Columbia areas.

Mother Lode foothill towns from Sonora to Copperopolis, Murphys and Jackson are included in an excessive heat warning issued by the weather service that’s effective from noon today to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Significant heat impacts are expected over the next five days for the general public, especially for people who are sensitive to the heat, pets, and livestock, forecasters in Sacramento said in an urgent weather message early Friday.

There’s expected to be little to no overnight relief from the heat in the foothills of Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, with overnight lows in the low to mid 70s through the middle of next week.

Tuolumne County public health staff advise residents to check their drinking water supply, ensure they have extra in storage, check personal medications, and check the status of air conditioning systems in homes and businesses.

“If you know of neighbors or friends who might benefit from assistance during the coming hot weather, this might be a good time to check on them,” the county Public Health Department said,

It’s important for everyone, especially children, to wear appropriate clothing during hot weather, the department said. Individuals who are sensitive to the sun should wear hats, use sunscreen, and wear clothing that protects against sun exposure.

Anyone who is unaccustomed to working or exercising in hot weather should avoid it. People who must exert themselves outside should pace themselves, drink 16 to 32 ounces of liquids every hour, and include salty foods, juices or sports drinks to replace electrolytes, the salts in your blood. 

Watch yourself for signs of heat exhaustion, including dizziness, headache, flushed skin or nausea. Heat stroke can occur when a person exposed to extreme heat loses the ability to maintain normal body temperature. This can lead to confusion, unconsciousness, and death.

Residents should also be prepared for power outages and going without air conditioning in their homes. 

Tuolumne County public health staff said if extreme fire danger conditions threaten parts of the electric system in Tuolumne County, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. may turn off electricity in the interest of public safety for up to five days. Residents should be prepared to go without electricity for multiple days.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

Recommended for you