July will end with run of triple-digit temperatures


After a couple of days with seasonal-like highs in the upper 90s, Saturday’s local forecast is expected to see temperatures climb back into triple digits. This run of sweltering temperatures above 100 is supposed to dominate the local forecast for the next eight to 10 days.

It is the middle of summer, and Kaweah Country is no stranger to triple-digit high temperatures. Fortunately, this current heat wave is not expected to be as intense as the record-breaker in June, especially in Southern California. But what this streak of triple digits lacks in intensity it should make up for in longevity.     

Northern California was largely spared the relentless heat that has been plaguing Southern California. Temperatures there have been slightly below normal due to an influence from a much cooler-than-normal Pacific Northwest.

But with intense heat from high pressure building over the Southwest, Northern California will be sweltering hot too. 

The foothills and mountain landscape is tinderbox dry so that means an increased risk for wildfire. The typical monsoonal flow that often accompanies these heat waves will be a “no-flow” for California, but inland areas and the Great Basin could see potential for flash floods.

As recently as 60 days ago, models were suggesting the possibility of a pronounced La Nina to follow this past season’s strong El Nino. More recent projections are showing only slightly cooling in the equatorial Pacific in the next six months so how much drier the coming season turns out to be is still unknown.

What is known for certain, according to NASA climatologists, is that each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally on record since 1880. Arctic sea ice extent also set records for the smallest sea ice extent in five of the first six months of 2016.

The one exception was March that recorded the second smallest. Satellites have monitored the extent of sea ice since 1979.

A little closer to home, at Lake Kaweah, dam-tenders have pulled the plug. On Thursday, July 21, the storage was down to 46,585 acre feet; the lake’s elevation dropped 2.5 feet in the previous 24 hours. 

The reason for the rapid drop in the lake’s pool is that the outflow is 1,631 cubic feet per second while the average inflow from all tributaries is just 60 cfs.

But there is a bright side even if there will be only a limited pool near Terminus Dam available for power boats and jet skis. Trails in the lower basin will be accessible in August so visitors can return to exploring the lake bottom without scuba gear.    

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