Triple-digit heat is expected once again Friday in many San Diego County communities, but relief from the scorching conditions will arrive this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
The high-pressure system fueling the heat wave will linger for another day, then temperatures will begin dropping on Saturday and keep dropping through the middle of next week, forecasters said.
A heat advisory -- now its fourth day -- remains in effect until 5 p.m. today in coastal areas and the western valleys.
NBC 7's Ashley Matthews said Santa Ana winds were expected to peak Friday morning.
"We do have an elevated fire risk during this time, so please be mindful of that throughout the day today," Matthews said on NBC 7's First Alert Forecast. "Hot and gusty conditions throughout the day; these temperatures we’re seeing once again today and 10 to 20 degrees above normal for this time of year."
Residents are advised to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun and check up on relatives and neighbors, according to the NWS. The agency also stresses that children, seniors and pets must never be left in a vehicle parked in hot weather, even with windows open, as interior temperatures can rapidly turn lethal.
High temperatures Friday are forecast to reach 86 degrees near the coast, 95 inland, 101 in the western valleys, 92 in the mountains and 105 in the deserts.
The mercury is expected to fall to 89 in most western valley communities on Saturday, then drop to 87 on Sunday, forecasters said. Highs in the deserts are expected to reach 106 on Saturday, then drop to 105 on Sunday.
Thursday saw high temperature records broken in Campo and Lake Cuyamaca, while Escondido tied its record of 99 degrees, set in 1961, according to the NWS. Campo reached 100, beating out its previous high for the date of 98 set in 1991. Lake Cuyamaca reached 86, edging its previous high of 85 measured in 2011.
To help residents escape the heat, the county is offering nine air-conditioned cooling centers in Alpine, Borrego Springs, Fallbrook, Lakeside, Potrero, Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Spring Valley and Valley Center.
Due to the coronavirus, mandatory mask-wearing and social-distancing
protocols are enforced in the facilities. A full list of the locations can be
found at here.
San Diego's October Fire Weather
Hot, dry weather in October is nothing new for San Diego. The conditions this time of year can sometimes create risky fire weather; this happened in October 2003 with the devastating Cedar Fire and in October 2007 with the Witch Fire.
California’s 2020 wildfire season has been one for the history books. Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,400 wildfires in the state have scorched more than 4 million acres, according the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. There have been 31 deaths related to California’s 2020 wildfires and more than 9,200 buildings have been destroyed.
Last month, the August Complex in the Coast Range between San Francisco and Oregon became California’s largest wildfire on record.
And now with the October heat, firefighters warn that California’s deadly wildfire season may not be over.
As of Oct. 8, more than 13,800 firefighters remained on the lines of 21 major wildfires across the state, Cal Fire said.
Just this past September, the Valley Fire scorched more than 16,000 acres near Alpine in San Diego’s East County.
With October’s reputation for California wildfires and this week’s heat advisory for the region, firefighters in San Diego County are on high alert, Isaac Sanchez with Cal Fire said.
Sanchez said the memories of the 2003 Cedar Fire are vivid and the lessons learned in that firefight are still used by crews to prepare for fire weather today.
“[It’s] the single significant event here in San Diego County,” Sanchez told NBC 7. “The event that we look back on and we compare to today. And when we do that, we do that with a sense of dread, of course.”
The fire season window that once typically ran from May to October in San Diego County now appears to be getting longer, possibly through as late as December.
“It’s hotter for longer periods of time, it’s dryer for longer periods of time and, of course, that wetting rain that we’re typically used to just isn’t coming like it used to come,” Sanchez explained.
But Sanchez said Cal Fire has adapted to the changes and is more prepared than ever.
Cal Fire has increased staffing and equipment, upgrading aircraft fleets like helicopters and, in the future, an airtanker.
“We are growing with the threat,” he said. “But it is a very real threat that the rest of the community and, of course, the rest of the agencies, that we all have to take very seriously.”