Heat Wave Peaks, Straining Bay Area Power Grid

The Bay Area is in the throes of extremely hot weather.

Temperatures on Friday soared to dangerous levels and will continue to do so through at least Monday, with most of the inland valley bracing for triple-digit temperatures.

Excessive heat warnings are in effect from 11 a.m. Friday till 9 p.m. Monday in many places around the Bay Area. The National Weather Service has also issued a heat advisory from 11 a.m. Friday through 9 p.m. Saturday.

The blistering heat set an all-time high temperature record in downtown San Francisco, according to the National Weather Service, and also set daily records in several cities across the region. Santa Rosa maxxed out at 110 degrees, Richmond topped out at 102, San Jose peaked at 108 and Santa Cruz soared to 105. 

The California Independent System Operator issued a flex alert from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to avoid power disruptions.

Officials in Berkeley are asking hillside neighbors to move their cars onto driveways in order for emergency vehicles to have adequate access to any potential blazes. Christie Smith reports.

According to PG&E, people may have been inclined to blast their A/Cs when the temperatures began to climb Thursday. The strain on the power grid could prompt some power outages in the Bay Area Friday, but PG&E was prepared with backup transformers, a spokesperson said. 

Meanwhile, a red flag fire warning — the highest alert — was in effect Friday for the North and East Bay hills and Santa Cruz mountains because of hot, dry and windy conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

The alert is in effect until 8 a.m. Saturday, weather service officials said. When red flag warnings are in effect, all residents are urged to use extreme caution because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire.

Weather service officials cautioned residents not to mow or trim dry grass, to be sure there is 100 feet of space around structures that is clear of combustible materials, also known as defensible space, and to clear dead weeds and vegetation. Also, people should never pull over their vehicles in dry grass, according to the weather service.

Berkeley's acting fire chief Dave Brannigan had additional suggestions specific to the Berkeley hills. Because of the danger of a rapidly spreading wildfire, Berkeley residents alongside the East Bay hills were encouraged to park in their driveways or garages, making as much space as possible in the narrow streets for emergency vehicles.

Residents are asked to use extreme caution operating barbeques and power equipment. Fireworks are completely forbidden in the city and surrounding areas, Brannigan noted.

Brian Kaminski, a doctor at ValleyCare Livermore Urgent Care, said he is worried that a lot of people will end up in the emergency room amid sweltering temperatures. The biggest concern is for children under 4 years of age and adults over 65, he said.

A blistering heat wave forced schools in Livermore to keep students during recess, marking the first time the school district has taken such a drastic measure during extreme heat. Jodi Hernandez reports.

School children across the Livermore area spent recess indoors amid the sweltering temperatures, marking the first time the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District has ever taken such a drastic move because of blistering conditions. 

"Throughout the district, we are keeping kids and staff indoors," district spokesperson Philomena Rambo said. "We're not doing physical activity classes outside. We've canceled athletic practices."

Heat-related health problems can start subtly with cramps and fatigue, but progress to heat exhaustion, with sweating, headaches, weakness and nausea. Mayo Clinic advises moving out of the heat, drinking cold water and using a spray or sponge to cool down. 

The worst condition is heat stroke, which can bring on a fever, rapid pulse and breathing, seizures and a complete shut down of the body. Patients could find relief if ice packs are placed on their necks and if their bodies are covered in cool sheets. Treatment also includes using a fan while misting with cool water. People are also encouraged to call 911 for help, Mayo Clinic suggests. 

To that end, schools away from Livermore took numerous precautions to keep students safe during the heat wave, including calling off track practices or asking athletes to run in the early morning hours. Some districts also provided ice and bottled water at all their schools, while others installed A/C units or were scrambling to find portable ones.

A blistering heat wave forced some schools to readjust games and practices in order to keep athletes safe. Ian Cull reports.

The heat wave didn't stop Gunderson and Pioneer high schools from kicking off a scheduled varsity football contest, but the players did take additional water breaks. The junior varsity teams were supposed to square off Friday afternoon, but the forecasted highs moved the matchup to Thursday evening.

"It's probably a good thing," Jason Simpson, a former San Jose State University running back said. "Right around that 3 o'clock kickoff time tends to be a little bit difficult. Later in the evening definitely helps a little bit more. As a player, water is your best friend."

At Stanford University, the women's soccer team braved 106 degrees at 4 p.m. to play in its match against Georgetown University. 

"As a parent, you're not only concerned for your player but everybody else on the field," Stanford soccer parent Florence Cook said. "But obviously they took water breaks and they showed the appropriate level of concern for the players."

A round of golf was virtually off the table in the East Bay because of the uncomfortable heat. The Buchanan Fields Golf Course in Concord was lifeless in the middle of the afternoon as the temperature sizzled at 108 degrees. 

In nearby Walnut Creek, the temperature was comparable, but it couldn't keep one happy couple from tying the knot. Christian and Amanda Sendaydiego said their vows under the 108 degree heat.

Outdoor activity was at a minimum Friday as East Bay residents took shelter from sizzling temperatures. Cheryl Hurd reports.

Spare the Air alerts were issued in the Bay Area for Thursday, Friday and Saturday because hot temperatures, light wind and vehicle exhaust were expected to combine to create unhealthy smog levels, regional air quality officials said.

The consecutive alerts, the 10th, 11th and 12th issued so far for smog in 2017, were because of particularly unhealthy ozone levels expected in the South Bay and East Bay, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

"Extreme heat starting late this week is expected to cause unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area likely through the Labor Day weekend," district executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement, noting that the currently burning wildfires will also impact air quality.

Officials recommend carpooling, taking public district or working from home if possible to limit smog levels in the area.

"We need to change how we get around and stop driving alone to reduce our pollution levels and protect our health," Broadbent said.

Bay Area residents are also advised to only exercise in the early morning hours when ozone concentrations are lower. 

PG&E says it is in emergency response mode, preparing to respond to power outages, with replacement transformers and other equipment at the ready.

"We have extra crews and equipment, and resources are ready to go, ready to be deployed," PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty said. "This is probably the largest heat event since 2006."

List of cooling centers around the Bay Area:

  • Benicia: Public Library, 150 E. L St.; Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
  • Campbell: Community Center, 1 W. Campbell Ave., Room E-44; Thursday to Sunday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Monday.
  • Cupertino: Quinlan Community Center, 10185 N Stelling Road, Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.
  • Livermore: Livermore Area Recreation and Park District, Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Los Gatos: Los Gatos Library, 100 Villa Ave., Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday (Labor Day).
  • Milpitas: Community Center, 457 E. Calaveras Blvd., Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Barbara Lee Senior Center, 40 N. Milpitas Blvd., Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sports Center, 1325 E. Calaveras Blvd., Monday–Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Morgan Hill: Centennial Recreation Center, 171 W. Edmundson Ave., Monday-Friday, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Open Labor Day holiday, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Community and Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey St., Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Mountain View: Mountain View Public Library, 585 Franklin St., Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. CLOSED Monday (Labor Day)
  • Napa: Las Flores Community Center, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Senior Center, Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., This Friday, Sept. 1, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • San Jose: For a list of community center locations in the city of San Jose, visit the city's Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services web page.​
  • Santa Clara: Central Park Library, 2635 Homesteads Road, Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; City Hall Cafeteria, 1500 Warburton Ave., Monday - Friday, 8 am to 5 pm; closed Saturday and Sunday; Community Recreation Center, 969 Kiely Blvd., Monday - Thursday, 8 am to 8 pm; Friday, 8 am to 5 pm; Saturday 9 am to noon; closed Sunday; Northside Branch Library, 695 Moreland Way, Monday - Tuesday, 11 am to 8 pm; Wednesday - Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm; closed Sunday; Senior Center, 1303 Fremont St., Monday - Thursday, 11 am to 8 pm; Friday, 7 am to 5 pm; Saturday, 9 am to noon; closed Sunday​; check website for updates.
  • Santa Clara County: County libraries located in Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Saratoga, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Campbell, Cupertino, and Milpitas; check website for hours and locations.
  • Saratoga: Joan Pisani Community Center: 19655 Allendale Ave., Call for hours: (408) 868-1249; Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave., Call for hours: (408) 867-6126
    Saratoga: Joan Pisani Community Center: 19655 Allendale Ave., Call for hours: (408) 868-1249; Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave., Call for hours: (408) 867-6126.

Here are some tips on how to stay cool:

  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar
  • Limit physical activity, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Don't leave people or pets in closed, parked cars
  • Stay in air-conditioned areas, including malls, libraries, movie theaters and community centers
  • Cool off by taking a bath or shower.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing
  • Do not bundle babies or put them in blankets or heavy clothing.
  • Cover your head with wide-brimmed, vented hats or use umbrellas
  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Rest in shady areas

Additional tips for people who work outdoors:

  • Ensure that cool drinking water is available.
  • Drink water or electrolyte-replacing sports drinks often; do not wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid drinking sweetened drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Avoid drinking extremely cold water as this is more likely to cause cramps.
  • Allow athletes or outdoor workers to take frequent rests.

Older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions:

  • During peak heat hours stay in an air-conditioned area. If you do not have access to air conditioning in your home, visit public facilities such as cooling centers, shopping malls, parks, and libraries to stay cool.
  • Older adults and those on certain medications may not exhibit signs of dehydration until several hours after dehydration sets in. Stay hydrated by frequently drinking cool water. If you’re on a special diet that limits liquids, check with your doctor for information on the amount of water to consume.
  • Stay out of the sun if you do not need to be in it. When in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim, and loose-fitting, light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants to protect against sun damage. And remember to use sun screen and to wear sunglasses.

Infants and Children:

  • It is illegal to leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle (California Vehicle Code Section 15620).
  • Infants and young children can get dehydrated very quickly. Make sure they are given plenty of cool water to drink.
  • Keep children indoors or shaded as much as possible.
  • Dress children in loose, lightweight, and light colored clothing.


  • Never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows cracked or open.
  • Outdoor animals should be given plenty of shade and clean drinking water.
  • Do not leave pets outside in the sun.
  • Pets should not be left in a garage as garages can get very hot due to lack of ventilation and insulation.
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