Unrelenting September heat wave grips California and western U.S. (2023)





OAKLAND, Calif. — California and the western United States are immersed in a historically severe September heat wave that is predicted to intensify early this week. The record-breaking temperatures are stressing power grids, fueling fires and endangering health.

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The prolonged heat wave began on Aug. 30 and is forecast to peak on Monday and Tuesday before gradually easing during the second half of the week. Dozens of high temperature records have already been broken from California to Montana and dozens more are forecast.

On Saturday, numerous cities in the Intermountain West endured their highest temperatures on record not only for Sept. 3 but for the entire month. Salt Lake City (which hit 103 degrees), Pocatello, Idaho, (102 degrees), and Great Falls, Mont. (102 degrees) were among them.

Death Valley in California is sizzling weeks after record rainiest day

“This is the worst September heat wave in Western USA history no doubt,” tweeted Maximiliano Herrera, a world weather historian, on Saturday night.


(Video) Historic, unrelenting heat wave grips the Western US

In Death Valley, Calif., the temperature has topped 120 degrees on five straight days, and is predicted to come close to the world record September temperature of 126 degrees Tuesday.

Climate scientists have found human-caused climate change is increasing the intensity, frequency and duration of heat waves such as this one. Nearly 50 million people are under excessive heat warnings or heat advisories through the early part of the week from California to Idaho.

Energy conservation urged

With temperatures forecast to soar into the 90s and 100s over much of the state Sunday, the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which oversees the power grid, issued the fifth consecutive “Flex Alert” calling for energy conservation between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to avoid outages. Demand on Thursday peaked at 47,357 megawatts, which was the highest load since September 2017, but usage fell a bit on Friday and Saturday.


“California consumers and businesses have responded to our Flex Alert calls with helpful reductions in their electricity use during the grid’s most challenging hours,” said California ISO chief executive Elliot Mainzer in a video update on Saturday. “Cooperation like this makes a real difference, so thank you everyone for that help.” The agency is bracing for peak demand on Tuesday of more than 50,000 megawatts.

Fires continue to rage

The punishing heat has fueled numerous fast-moving fires. In far northern California, near the town of Weed, firefighters are battling the Mill and nearby Mountain fires. The Mill Fire, which was 25 percent contained Saturday evening, destroyed 50 structures, prompted evacuations and injured multiple people. Both fires started on Friday.

(Video) Scorching heat wave in the forecast for western U.S. this Labor Day weekend

The Route Fire, which erupted Wednesday east of Los Angeles, burned more than 5,200 acres and at least eight firefighters suffered heat-related injuries battling the flames. By Sunday morning the blaze was 87 percent contained.


Numerous fires have also erupted in Oregon, whose billowing smoke plumes could be seen from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite on Saturday. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) declared a state of emergency a week ago due to the fire threat.

The Predictive Services of the National Interagency Fire Center is warning of “high risk” conditions in many areas of California and the Mountain West.

Searing conditions in the Central Valley

In the coming days some of the most excessive heat is forecast in California’s Central Valley. Sacramento has already reached the century mark four days in a row and is forecast to see six more. The National Weather Service says it has a 67 percent chance to match its September record of 109 degrees on Tuesday.

People who have to work outdoors during the heat wave are at particular risk, and California Department of Industrial Relations issued an advisory earlier in the week reminding employers of their legal obligation to protect workers by providing adequate water, shade and rest.

Cynthia Burgos, a farmworker in Bakersfield, where it is forecast to reach 111 degrees Tuesday, has plenty of experience working in the heat, harvesting carrots.


“By around 10 or 11 a.m., it is already very hot, and the humidity in the ground starts rising,” she said via a translator. “It’s just a miserable experience.”

Farmworkers have collapsed and even died in these conditions. On a day last year that surpassed 100 degrees, Burgos and other workers initiated a work stoppage because the only drinking water available was extremely hot. She is not working during this heat wave because she has been on leave to campaign for a state bill that would expand union voting rights for farmworkers.

“It shouldn’t be the workers’ job. It’s the employers’ responsibility to provide a safe working environment,” said Elizabeth Strater from the United Farm Workers union. “The higher the heat gets, the more it seems like they’re giving up.”

(Video) Record setting heat wave grips the West l GMA

Beating the heat in the Bay Area

In the Bay Area, coastal regions have seen cooler temperatures from the 60s to the low 80s, but inland cities have gotten up to the 90s, with several areas expected to hit over 100 for the next few days in a row. As a precaution, the East Bay Regional Park District is closing most of the local parks for Sunday and Monday, to limit the chances of visitors sparking a fire.


“What makes this heat wave different is the duration,” said meteorologist Sarah McCorkle from the San Francisco Bay area office of the National Weather Service. In some places, she said, 100 degree heat may last more than seven days, which is unusual. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

⚠Dangerous Heat Ahead 🥵

Triple digit heat to impact interior portions of the Bay Area and Central Coast through at least midweek. Stay hydrated and keep cool! #CAwx #BayAreaWX #CAheat pic.twitter.com/jzGs4PRZTE

— NWS Bay Area 🌉 (@NWSBayArea) September 4, 2022

In the East Bay city of Dublin, Calif., on Saturday afternoon, the temperature was in the mid-90s, and three members of the Ting family were about to head into the movie theater for two movies in a row.

“Yesterday we had two power outages, one in the middle of the night, and one during the day,” said Mike Ting. His wife, Nola Ting, teaches at a nearby elementary school that let out early on Friday due to a power outage. A national promotion offering cheap movie tickets for a day is what got the family to the theater, but they said they appreciate the air conditioning.

“Whenever it’s hot, it’s always fun to do something cool in the middle of the day,” said Mike Ting. “Hopefully things will get better soon.”

Southern California swelters

(Video) Wildfires erupt along West Coast amid worst heat wave of the year

The heat has been relentless in Southern California since the middle of last week. Burbank soared to a 112 degrees Wednesday and has topped 100 degrees every day since. On Saturday, even the typically mild San Diego set a record high of 95 degrees.

UPS driver Jared Hamil of Los Angeles said he recorded a temperature of 131 degrees in the back of his truck on Friday. “It’s like being in an oven,” he said.

Hamil reports that his truck does not have air conditioning or a fan, and he sometimes has to spend several minutes in the back area looking for a package. In the near term, to help reduce the load on drivers on hot days, he proposes that the company send out more trucks and split routes into smaller chunks to give workers shorter days. He adds that in his experience, managers are not always understanding of accommodations people make for their health. “Stop harassing people when they take a cool-down break or go use the restroom,” he said.


Matthew O’Connor, director of media relations for UPS, submitted a statement by email from the company asserting that “the health and safety of our employees is our highest priority.” He listed efforts the company is making during the heat wave to prevent employees from overheating, including providing water, ice, electrolyte beverages, fruit, wicking uniforms and cooling towels, and stated that UPS is in the process of installing fans in vehicles.

Climate change connections

Research meteorologist Alexander Gershunov from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said that heat waves have been getting more frequent and intense worldwide and in California, in particular, more humid.

“With higher humidity, temperatures don’t really drop that much at night,” he said. “And in terms of health impacts, that pretty much removes the nighttime respite that we need to face another day of scorching heat.” He said these overall trends are not a surprise to researchers. Of all the extreme weather events, heat waves are “the most closely-related and directly-impacted by global warming.”

Samenow reported from Washington.


Will there be heatwave in September 2022? ›

In early September 2022, a long-lasting heat dome settled over the U.S. West and brought scorching temperatures that set all-time record highs.

Was there a heatwave 2022? ›

Record heatwaves in 2022 have affected millions of people across Asia, America, Europe, North Africa, Australia and the Pacific islands. And extreme weather events including heatwaves are forecast to become more frequent and intense as the warming atmosphere drives climate change.

Why does California keep getting hotter? ›

Climate change is making most places warmer, and California is no exception. With more greenhouse gasses insulating the planet, we're going to continue to see higher temperatures year-round. But the main reason California is getting so hot is because climate change is wreaking havoc on global weather patterns.

Is September unusually warm? ›

September 2022 was a month for the record books in California. A historic heat wave produced over a week of sweltering temperatures across the state, and even set a record for the Bay Area: 116 degrees, recorded in Fairfield and Livermore.

What's the hottest month 2022? ›

The summer started out hot and hardly abated. NASA data indicated June 2022 tied for the hottest June on record, July tied for the third warmest and August ranked as the second warmest globally.

Will America have a hot summer in 2022? ›

The summer of 2022 will be hotter than average. As spring rolls into summer, some of the nation will already begin to see an increase in heat. In May, southwestern states, particularly Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas, will experience well above-average hot weather.

Will 2022 will be the hottest year? ›

The global mean temperature in 2022 is currently estimated to be about 1.15 [1.02 to 1.28] °C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average. A rare triple-dip cooling La Niña means that 2022 is likely to “only” be fifth or sixth warmest.

Why is it so hot lately 2022? ›

Most climate divisions in the US experienced days when high temperatures were being made more likely because of climate change. Along the coast of Texas, for example, more than 60 days this summer had temperatures found to be influenced by climate change.

Is 2022 going to be an El Nino year? ›

The WMO El Niño/La Niña Update predicts the continuation of the current La Niña over the next six months, with a 70% chance in September-November 2022 but gradually decreasing to 55% in December-February 2022/2023.

What is the hottest California has ever gotten? ›

Cooling centres in Los Angeles County and other parts of the state have been set up where people can escape the heat. Death Valley holds the record for the hottest temperature ever, reaching 56.6°C in July 1913.

What will happen to California in 2050? ›

Housing, rail lines, bridges, ports, power plants, freeways and other structures are vulnerable to rising seas and tides. “Between $8 billion and $10 billion of existing property in California is likely to be underwater by 2050, with an additional $6 billion to $10 billion at risk during high tide.”

What caused California heat wave 2022? ›

The extreme temperatures that will bear down on California over the next week are the result of a “heat dome,” a phenomenon that typically brings broiling conditions to the state as summer fades into fall. But climate change is worsening the dome's effects and making it more lethal for people who cannot seek relief.

Why is September the hottest month in California? ›

By September, the ocean temperatures trend warmer and offshore winds that blow hot air from inland areas toward the coast minimize fog. The city's natural air conditioning is turned off, allowing for occasional heat waves that stretch from the coast to inland valleys.

What city has the best weather in September? ›

Here's where to go to make the most of September weather, from the south of France to Malta, Italy, Greece, Morocco and the USA.
Make the summer last: top 10 places with sunny September weather
  1. Ibiza, Spain. ...
  2. Santorini, Greece. ...
  3. Croatia. ...
  4. Palermo, Italy. ...
  5. Malta. ...
  6. Marrakech, Morocco. ...
  7. Gibraltar. ...
  8. Austin, Texas, USA.
6 Aug 2021

What was the hottest day in September? ›

On Sept. 2, the desert valley in Eastern California reached temperatures of 127 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Park Service. That is believed to be the hottest temperature that has ever been recorded in September anywhere on Earth.

How hot will it be in 2030? ›

AUnderstanding Global Warming of 1.5°C*

warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

Is September hot in California? ›

Daily high temperatures decrease by 3°F, from 84°F to 81°F, rarely falling below 73°F or exceeding 93°F. Daily low temperatures decrease by 3°F, from 65°F to 63°F, rarely falling below 58°F or exceeding 71°F.

What will be the hottest day in 2022? ›

07/20/2022: The hottest day of the year.

Will 2022 be a rough winter? ›

Winter will be warmer than normal, with above-normal precipitation. The coldest periods will be in late November, mid- and late December, and mid- January. Snowfall will be below normal in most areas that normally receive snow, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-January and early February.

Are the seasons shifting 2022? ›

Major changes are coming in 2022 across the atmosphere and the oceans, creating different weather patterns into the second half of the year, and especially in the cold season later in the year. The changes will start slowly, but the main shift will start to occur during the 2022 warm season.

What was the hottest summer in US history? ›

The hottest U.S. summer on record for the past 128 years happened last year, 2021, when the average temperature was 74 F (23.3 C). The 2nd hottest was during the Dust Bowl, back in 1936. NOAA made the measurement for meteorological summer, which runs from June 1 to August 31.

How long it will be until the next ice age? ›

Predicted changes in orbital forcing suggest that the next glacial period would begin at least 50,000 years from now. Moreover, anthropogenic forcing from increased greenhouse gases is estimated to potentially outweigh the orbital forcing of the Milankovitch cycles for hundreds of thousands of years.

How hot will the US be in 2050? ›

They predict that in three decades, more than 100 million Americans will live in an “extreme heat belt” where at least one day a year, the heat index temperature will exceed 125° Fahrenheit (52° Celsius) — the top level of the National Weather Service's heat index, or the extreme danger level.

How hot will it be in 2050? ›

Highs could approach 40 degrees Celsius (around 104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time – a prediction that prompted meteorologists there to issue a “red” heat warning for the first time ever. To be clear, this would be truly record-breaking heat.

What temperature is too hot for humans to survive? ›

People often point to a study published in 2010 that estimated that a wet-bulb temperature of 35 C – equal to 95 F at 100 percent humidity, or 115 F at 50 percent humidity – would be the upper limit of safety, beyond which the human body can no longer cool itself by evaporating sweat from the surface of the body to ...

What summer 2022 looks like? ›

The transition from spring to summer will be stormy in many areas of the United States, especially along the East Coast and Great Lakes regions, where we are predicting some big thunderstorms. During the middle to latter part of July (Dog Days of Summer), most of the nation will experience brutally hot conditions.

What is the current state of climate change 2022? ›

Extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating flooding have affected millions and cost billions this year, according to the WMO Provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report. The tell-tale signs and impacts of climate change are becoming more dramatic. The rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993.

Is 2022 is El Nino or Nina? ›

La Niña conditions are expected to persist throughout the remainder of 2022. As a result, the outlook into the upcoming winter favors below normal precipitation.

Is 2022 an El Nina? ›

A moderate La Niña during the winter of 2021 – 2022 caused an extremely warm December, with hundreds communities that reached the 70s and 80s. Many southern states reported experiencing their warmest December on record. Record heat in December 2021.

Is El Nino coming 2023? ›

However, as the 3rd year of La Nina continues, Climate Impact Company is forecasting El Nino to form later in 2023. By early next year, the very warm SSTA pattern enhanced by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole (-IOD) in the far eastern equatorial Indian Ocean will fade.

Which part of California is hotter? ›

Death Valley holds the record for the highest air temperature on the planet: On 10 July 1913, temperatures at the aptly named Furnace Creek area in the California desert reached a blistering 56.7°C (134.1°F). Average summer temperatures, meanwhile, often rise above 45°C (113°F).

What is the hottest day in California 2022? ›

Pulling a cart filled with bottled water and snacks Kim Burrell, left, and Debbie Chang, right, walk the streets of Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022. Sacramento set a new record for the highest temperature ever recorded downtown — 116 degrees — as an extreme heatwave continued into another week on Tuesday.

What is the hottest place to live in California? ›

A view of Mesquite Dunes inside Death Valley National Park, where the temperature hit 127 degrees on Thursday at Furnace Creek. California's Death Valley is one of the hottest places on Earth.

What U.S. states will be least affected by climate change? ›

Vermont. Vermont scores lowest on the SafeHome.org Risk Index -- by a lot. Of all five climate change hazards measured (extreme heat, drought, wildfires, inland flooding, coastal flooding), only extreme heat threatens Vermont. Experts believe the state will only have about nine “dangerously hot” days per year by 2050.

Is California losing more people than gaining? ›

Population change in California

The state of California's population declined 0.3% between 2021 and 2022, according to population estimates released Monday by the state Department of Finance.

Are people leaving California 2022? ›

Big Takeaways. moveBuddha's data in 2022, shows CA is seeing the biggest outflow in the country with a move ratio of only 51 moves in for every 100 out. According to the U.S. Census, California lost the 2nd most residents in the country April 2020-July 2021 population estimates (only behind New York).

Is it getting hotter every year in California? ›

California's climate is changing. Southern California has warmed about three degrees (F) in the last century and all of the state is becoming warmer.

How long do heat domes last? ›

Heat domes usually last up to four days, but they can linger for two weeks. On rare occasions, heat domes have lasted longer than two weeks, causing hundreds of Americans to die due to heat-related illnesses.

How long is heat wave supposed to last? ›

A heat wave is a period of unusually hot weather that typically lasts two or more days.

Does it cool down in September in California? ›

In some years, a temperature of 100 °F (38 °C) or more can occur briefly during September. The thermometer drops to 70 °F (21 °C) or below on most nights. But September does not normally cool down to 50 °F (10 °C).

Is August or September hotter in California? ›

September is probably the hottest month of the year in California. Typically it is clear, dry, sunny, and warm to hot.

Does it get cooler in September in California? ›

Daily high temperatures decrease by 7°F, from 89°F to 82°F, rarely falling below 71°F or exceeding 96°F. Daily low temperatures decrease by 6°F, from 64°F to 58°F, rarely falling below 48°F or exceeding 71°F.

What state is best to visit in September? ›

Best place to visit in September
  • Mt Rainier National Park, Washington. ...
  • Puerto Rico (another favorite on this list of best places to visit in September in the USA) ...
  • Telluride, Colorado. ...
  • White Mountains of New Hampshire. ...
  • Alaska road trip (best place to vacation in September) ...
  • Gulf Shores, Alabama.
23 Jun 2022

Where is the best vacation spot in September? ›

Best Places to Visit in September
  • Grand Canyon.
  • Big Sur.
  • Honolulu - Oahu.
  • Greenville, SC.
  • Prague.
  • Vancouver.
  • Santiago.
  • Flagstaff.

Where is best for Sun in September? ›

10 of the best destinations for late summer sun
  1. Turkey. Turkey is cloaked in roasting temperatures throughout summer, but by September things have calmed down. ...
  2. The Algarve. ...
  3. Spain and its islands. ...
  4. Croatia. ...
  5. The Greek islands. ...
  6. Cyprus. ...
  7. Malta. ...
  8. Sicily.
16 Sept 2019

Has there ever been 100 degrees September? ›

That's the hottest September day recorded going back to 1874. The previous record high for September was 100 degrees. Salt Lake City, Utah, reached 103 degrees Fahrenheit on Sept. 5, 2022, breaking its all-time temperature record for September.

What was the hottest month in human history? ›

July of 2021 was the hottest month in recorded history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What's the hottest it's ever been in Death Valley California? ›

Of note: Death Valley holds the world record for hottest temperature ever at 134°F, which was measured back in July 1913.

Will the UK have another heatwave in September? ›

No September heatwave according to latest Met Office weather report for the region. The heatwaves are over, at least for now, according to the latest longer term weather report for the region. Another heatwave has been ruled out as we slowly approach Autumn.

What is going to be the hottest day of 2022? ›

07/20/2022: The hottest day of the year.

Will we have a hot summer 2022 UK? ›

The summer of 2022 will be remembered as a dry and sunny three months, and for England, the joint warmest summer on record according to mean temperature*.

Why is heat in the UK worse than abroad? ›

Indeed, as a spokesperson for the Met Office told MyLondon: “The level of humidity can be higher in the UK than in continental Europe. If humidity is high, it is harder for the human body to keep cool as your sweat doesn't evaporate as quickly.

When's the next heatwave UK 2022? ›

August heatwave
AreasUnited Kingdom
Start date9 August 2022
End date15 August 2022
Peak temp.34.2 °C (93.6 °F), recorded at Wiggonholt, West Sussex on 11 August 2022

Why is 2022 so hot this year? ›

Most climate divisions in the US experienced days when high temperatures were being made more likely because of climate change. Along the coast of Texas, for example, more than 60 days this summer had temperatures found to be influenced by climate change.

Is 2022 hotter than normal? ›

June–August 2022 was the Northern Hemisphere's second-hottest meteorological summer on record at 2.07 degrees F (1.15 degrees C) above average, behind Summer 2020. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere had its 10th-warmest winter on record.

Is 2022 going to be a hot summer in Europe? ›

The summer 2022 was characterised by hot and dry conditions over much of western Europe. In much of Scandinavia, regions of central and south-eastern Europe, Greece and western Turkey, conditions were predominantly wetter than average.


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