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Goodbye cool weather, hello summer: Dangerous heat wave forecast this weekend

In this file photo from 2014, Kaira Verduzco, of Merced, cools off in Bass Lake. Officials advise the public to stay out of flowing waterways, no matter how tempting they may be, as snow melts due to a blistering heat wave this weekend and into next week.
In this file photo from 2014, Kaira Verduzco, of Merced, cools off in Bass Lake. Officials advise the public to stay out of flowing waterways, no matter how tempting they may be, as snow melts due to a blistering heat wave this weekend and into next week. Sierra Star File Photo

Say farewell to your hopes of cooler days, the National Weather Service says, as summer is coming out swinging with a scorching, potentially record-breaking heat wave that will torch the entire Central Valley and Mountain Area from Saturday into next week.

Dan Harty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Hanford, said temperatures in Oakhurst will soar from lows under 63 last weekend to a high of 96 on Saturday, 100 on Sunday, and 104 on Monday - a remarkable change of more than 40 degrees.

“Some people say these temperatures are on a roller coaster ride,” Harty said. “We sometimes call them drastic temperature swings. I mean, we were 15 to 20 degrees below normal for a few days there, now we’re running 15 to 20 degrees above normal. It’s certainly unusual.”

Lows in the Mountain Area will remain in the high 50s to low 60s during the heat wave, Harty said, with cooler temperatures at higher elevations.

Though the weather service doesn’t keep record highs and lows for Oakhurst, Harty said the heat will likely break records in Fresno, with previous highs of 106 likely to be broken by 108, even 110 degree days.

For those planning to visit Yosemite National Park, Harty said the forecast isn’t much better, as temperatures will reach the mid to upper 90s, with lows in the low 60s, during the weekend and into next week.

An Excessive Heat Warning will be in effect across much of the Valley and Sierra Nevadas from noon Sunday to 11 p.m. Tuesday as a result of the blazing temperatures, caused by a building ridge of high pressure.

“That means there’s going to be a long period of our hottest days of the year so far,” Harty said. “And that could create dangerous conditions with dehydration and heat illness.”

Untreated heat illness can lead to fatal heat stroke, the weather service warned in a release.

Harty said the public should stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and light colored, loose clothing, find shade or air conditioning whenever and wherever possible, and remain connected with friends and family to ensure their safety.

Both Harty and Madera County Sheriff’s Sgt. Joseph Wilder added with the blistering heat comes another danger - rapidly melting snow and furiously fast waterways.

Wilder said the best option anyone can take, at least when it comes to creeks, streams, and other flowing water, is to stay on land.

“It’s best to stay out of the water,” Wilder said. “It’s as simple as that. With the flows as strong as they are, and the snow melt meaning colder temperatures, it doesn’t take long for your body to feel the effects of hypothermia and things like that. Enjoy the beauties of the area from the shoreline, but don’t get in.”

“Fast flowing, cold water looks very inviting and refreshing, and it may be, but it’s extremely dangerous,” Harty said. “We advise everyone to definitely, definitely remain cautious around water because of how dangerous it is right now.”

Some moderate flooding is also expected on the Merced River at Pohono Bridge in Yosemite, Harty said.

Wilder, who oversees the Madera County Sheriff’s Office’s Search & Rescue Team, said a list of Madera County cooling centers was being finalized. They will be included in this story when available.

For tips on how to keep your pets safe during the fiery weather, click here.

Pools open at Yosemite High

One way to beat the heat is at Yosemite High School, where the pools are open Monday through Saturdays.

Monday through Friday, the swim complex is open from 1-7 p.m., and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday.

The price is $4 per person for those 1 year old and up before 5 p.m., and $3 after that hour. A senior discount is available at $3.50. Family and monthly passes are available, as well as private parties. A snack bar is also on site.

For more details on the swim classes and other programs at the YHS pools, click here.

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