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First heat wave of 2024
spray park
While the Columbia Pool is still closed for construction and recreational swim at the Pitman High Pool doesn’t start until June 12, those looking to beat the heat this week can still visit one of Turlock’s aquatic spray grounds — at Broadway Park and Columbia Park — from noon to 7 p.m. daily (Journal file photo).

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, only a tiny sliver of California — a Stanislaus County-sized patch of land in the southeast corner of the state that straddles the San Bernardino and Riverside county line — is even experiencing the mildest drought conditions.

The other 99 percent of the state is free of any hint of drought — a welcome change from recent summers.

However, it’s going to feel a lot like the drought has returned over the next week as the Valley experiences its first heat wave of 2024.

“We have high pressure that’s building across the western United States, bringing some hot temperatures pretty much the rest of this week,” said Katrina Hand, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “Triple digits are forecast for (Wednesday) and Thursday, with slight cooling into the weekend. But we’re still looking at temperatures in the upper 90s, which is a little above normal for this time of year.”

heat illnesses

According to the NWS station in Modesto, temperatures of 104 are forecast today and Thursday, with the mercury expected to hit 99 degrees on Friday. The NWS station in Merced paints a similar picture, with a high of 103 today, followed by 105 on Thursday and 102 on Friday.

“As we face the first heat wave of the year, please remember to stay hydrated, seek shade, and check on your neighbors — especially the elderly and vulnerable,” said Mayor Amy Bublak. “Let’s work together to stay safe and cool."

After the relative cooling trend over the weekend, triple-digit temperatures are expected to turn the following week. According to Hand, the NWS has an excessive heat warning in place through Thursday night.

"Besides the temperatures during the day, we’re still looking at some warm overnight temps, as well,” said Hand. “Generally, it will be in low 70s, so we’re not seeing much relief from heat in overnight hours.”

The city of Turlock will open two cooling centers during the heat wave.

“The Roger K. Fall Transit Center, at 1418 N. Golden State Blvd., will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” said Joseph Spangler, communications specialist for the city. “And on Saturday, the transit center will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.”

The Turlock Public Library, 550 Minaret Ave., will serve as the city’s second cooling center. The library is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“As always, during excessive heat warnings, bus fare to the transit center is waved,” said Spangler. 

Elevated fire conditions are only minor, according to the NWS, but it’s always a good idea to keep cars off of dry grass; properly dispose of cigarettes and matches; and avoid using outdoor equipment that creates sparks.

The air quality for today is expected to be moderate, with an Air Quality Index of 61. Anything over 100 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. A count over 150 is unhealthy for all.