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Bay Area Weather: It’s Hot, Our Air Is Bad, and Watch Out for Fire

| May 12, 2014
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Briones Regional Park in the East Bay. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

Briones Regional Park in the East Bay. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

In most places, you’d look outside and remark on what a beautiful day it is. Warm, sunny, and passably clear and non-smoggy. Here in the Bay Area, though, there’s more to the weather than meets the eye. First off, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has declared Spare the Air days for both Monday and Tuesday, with moderate levels of ozone in most of the Bay Area and higher-than-normal particulate pollution for Contra Costa and Alameda counties east of the Berkeley and Oakland hills. Second, the National Weather Service regional office in Monterey has put out a heat advisory for the entire region.

Today we’re enjoying temperatures from around 70 at the coast to the mid-to-upper 80s. But forecasters warn (they always write in all caps):

HIGH PRESSURE AND OFFSHORE FLOW WILL BRING RECORD OR NEAR RECORD HEAT TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY. THE HOTTEST TEMPERATURES WILL BE FELT INTERIOR LOCATIONS…BUT GIVEN THE OFFSHORE FLOW HOT TEMPERATURES WILL REACH ALL THE WAY TO THE COAST. PERSONS SENSITIVE TO HEAT SUCH AS THE ELDERLY AND THOSE ON CERTAIN MEDICATIONS SHOULD PLAN ACCORDINGLY AND PUT A PLAN IN PLACE NOW TO PREPARE FOR THE UPCOMING HOT WEATHER. SOME COOLING MAY OCCUR NEAR COAST BY THURSDAY WHILE HOT WEATHER CONTINUES INLAND. MORE COOLING IS FORECAST FOR ALL LOCATIONS BY FRIDAY.

Forecast temperatures by Wednesday range from the high 80s on the coast to the high 90s in many inland locations and as high as 105 in the Salinas Valley. Forecasters also have a word of caution for beachgoers: Wednesday could see a higher chance of rip currents and sneaker waves on the coast. And our third “this weather isn’t as good as it looks” factor is fire danger. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — Cal Fire for short — has declared the fire season open throughout Northern California as of Monday. According to the Associated Press:

The official start of the fire season means staffing levels will remain at their peak and firefighting aircraft on standby until the heightened danger subsides, CalFire spokesperson Daniel Berlant said. In Southern California, the fire season is already underway because the agency never ended the one that started in 2013, Berlant said. State fire officials have been gearing up since January by slowly adding more temporary firefighters in the central and northern parts of California. “There is no doubt that the drought has left the grasses and the brush very dry and that has really set the stage for a very busy fire season,” Berlant said.

As usual in most of the Bay Area, this week’s heat is expected to be short-lived. Forecasters say cool weather will return by Friday.

On Monday, KQED’s Mina Kim talked with Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services, and with Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant:

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Category: Environment, Science

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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