On Saturday afternoon, temperatures approached the triple digits in Fahrenheit across much of California, surpassing 100oF (38oC) in inland areas, making a steaming autumn in the state seem more like an endless summer.
Heat in the mid-30soC was felt in the normally temperate San Francisco Bay Area, where temperature records were expected to fall before the day was over.
Throngs of thousands who crammed Golden Gate Park for the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival were chugging water and dumping it on their heads as they danced to banjos and fiddles in the midday swelter, with many wearing shorts and little else.
Heat in the Sacramento region also pushed well into the mid-30soC.
The mercury was at 35oC in downtown Los Angeles by midday and 38.5oC in the suburbs of San Bernardino County.
Normally closed for the season by now, the Raging Waters theme park in San Dimas, where it was 36oC on Saturday afternoon, was open to provide relief and recreation for another weekend.
A high-pressure system extending over the western part of the US, along with the Santa Ana winds that blow across deserts and down mountain canyons before arriving in southern California, are generating the sweltering conditions.
The heat brought a red-flag warning of critical wildfire conditions through Saturday night, the US National Weather Service said.
The US Forest Service has implemented 24-hour firefighter staffing, as the Los Angeles County Fire Department beefed up many of its firefighting crews from three to four people and stationed extra equipment in strategic locations.
“We’ve got wind, heat — the perfect combination, everything in alignment for a potential brushfire,” Fire Department Captain Rich Moody said as he and his crew patrolled a southern hillside.
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