Fall's Sweltering Start

Air conditioning in autumn?

By Jessica Greene and Craig Herrera
|  Tuesday, Sep 22, 2009  |  Updated 10:02 AM PDT
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Fall arrives on the hottest day of the week.

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Sweating Into Fall

It's the first day of fall. Really, it is. Check out the forecast for the rest of this sweltering week.
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 Today is the first day of fall, so can someone tell the weather?

The season officially starts today -- on the hottest day of this week. The sun is setting sooner and the mornings and evenings are cooler -- both familiar feelings for the start of fall.

But there's one thing that stands out as unfamiliar to the season: extreme heat.

Fall officially begins around 2:20 p.m. but we will be seeing records falling around the Bay Area as some late-summer heat spills into the first few days of the season. It's another day of excessive heat, red flag warnings and Spare The Air as some of the highest temperatures of the year continue to bake the Bay Area.

Today there is a Red Flag Warning for the North and East Bay hills and the Diablo Range through 6 p.m. and a heat advisory for the Bay Area -- except for along the coast -- through 11 p.m.

Some cities are opening up cooling centers as the heat wave sweeps across much of Northern California. With the temperature soaring across a wide area of the region, officials in San Jose and Sunnyvale are offering the centers for residents who need relief from the hot weather.

Temperatures have been moving higher since the weekend. We could top out at 101 degrees in some of the hottest parts of the Bay Area today. San Jose will reach about 95; Concord can expect about 99; and Los Gatos will be right up there at 100 degrees.

If you're looking for some respite from the heat, try Half Moon Bay, where it will be at about 69. San Francisco will be a comfortable 72 degrees and Santa Cruz will be a nice 76 degrees today.

We have some fog at the coast but no strong winds to push the natural air conditioning over the Bay Area. That will throttle up fire danger. The driest time of year, along with some of the warmest weather we've see so far, could spark wildfires. Conditions will be ripe for wildfires this week.

Moderate winds, low relative humidity and high temperatures "will create explosive fire growth potential," fire officials say.

Cooling begins slowly on the coast and eventually works further inland heading into next weekend. People with asthma and upper respiratory problems will be feeling the affects of hot, stagnant air.

Slow down strenuous outdoor activities during the hottest hours of the day: noon-6 p.m.

It's sad that this must be repeated but it bears repeating: Do NOT leave children, pets or anyone inside a parked car even with the windows slightly down in these types of conditions! A parked car even on a 75-degree day can quickly see interior temperatures rise to well above 100 degrees in just a few minutes time. San Francisco State University professor Jan Null has an excellent article worth reading on the dangers of hyperthermia.

Rob Mayeda contributed to this report.

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