Newsletter: Another heat wave is coming

The heat wave is expected to begin on Friday in much of California and continue through the weekend.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Sept. 3, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Well, at least one thing is clear. California can’t seem to catch a break. After a brief few days of relative calm (the key word here being relative, since two of the largest fires in state history are still burning), more warnings are back for the weekend.

A major heat wave will be hitting California this weekend, complicating firefighting efforts and potentially bringing more challenges to the electrical grid.

The vast bulk of the state, save for a few swaths in the northeastern reaches, will be under an excessive heat watch or warning for the weekend, beginning either Friday or Saturday and continuing through Sunday or Monday, depending on the region. Sunday is expected to be the hottest day, with temperatures potentially beginning to come down a bit starting Monday.


How will it compare to the record-breaking heat wave that baked the state just weeks ago? According to National Weather Service meteorologist Kathy Hoxsie, it will be similar, and “in some locations even a little hotter.” But this go-round is at least expected to be shorter than the long swelter of mid-August.

What to expect

Southern California is likely to see the worst of it, with the National Weather Service’s Los Angeles Office warning that it “is not recommended to spend any extended period outside during the heat of the day.” Temperatures in the Los Angeles area will range from 100 to 115 degrees away from the coast, with “the most widespread chance” of seeing daily records broken on Sunday, according to Hoxsie.

[Read the story: “‘Dangerous’ heat wave forecast for Southern California’s Labor Day weekend” in the Los Angeles Times]

Helen Chavez, a Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management assistant director, said the county is working closely with cities to identify sites to use as emergency cooling centers. She estimated that at least a dozen sites across the county would open during the weekend, if not more. (Here’s the county site that lists cooling centers. It will be updated as more are added.)

And Northern California will be far from spared. “It’s going to be a regional event,” Hoxsie explained, adding that Nevada will also be affected. The San Francisco Bay Area office of the National Weather Service also warns that the “hot and dry conditions will obviously be problematic for ongoing fires this weekend.”


Will we see more blackouts?

The short answer is it’s too soon to say. The California Independent System Operator, the organization that runs the electric grid for much of the state, said in a statement that “it is too early to assess the specific impacts of heat on grid conditions.”

“We are seeing temperatures statewide 10 to 20 degrees above normal and overnight temperatures from 10-plus degrees above normal, which doesn’t allow infrastructure to cool down. So, heat waves always mean more air conditioning use, which drives up electricity demand,” California ISO spokesperson Anne Gonzales explained. “We should be prepared for tight supplies and a possible Flex Alert or voluntary calls for consumer conservation for lowering energy use.”

According to Gonzales, the duration of heavy demand affects equipment, bringing more possibility for equipment failures during a longer heatwave, so the fact that this coming heat wave is expected to be substantially shorter than the last one works in our favor. Cloud cover, which lowers solar output, was also a factor during the last heat wave, but it’s not currently forecast to be an issue this weekend.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

How police reform was derailed in California. Stall tactics. Distractions. Lobbying. Despite weeks of rhetoric and numerous proposals, California ended its legislative session with only a handful of moderate police reforms. Here’s why. Los Angeles Times


Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


Hair salons can reopen but not shopping malls under a new L.A. County plan: Hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to operate indoors at 25% capacity if they adhere to requirements for social distancing and employees wear masks and follow other health-related mandates. Los Angeles Times

Nader Salameh, left, and son Gavyn get their hair cut in a parking lot
Nader Salameh, left, and son Gavyn get their hair cut by Anthony Ho, left, and Christian Mikhail in the parking lot of Press Box Barber Shop in Lawndale.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

L.A. County schools can reopen small in-person classes for their neediest students on Sept. 14. Students with disabilities and English-language learners are among those who qualify. Los Angeles Times

You’re nobody in this town without a Netflix deal. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially went Hollywood on Wednesday, becoming the latest pair of big names to sign a massive contract with the streamer. Los Angeles Times

Controversial hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen takes on Hollywood: The billionaire hedge fund manager is known for owning one of the best private art collections in the world and having been the subject of one of the government’s most high-profile insider trading investigations. Los Angeles Times


A local alternative to the big delivery apps: Modeled after food delivery services in Seoul, a tiny Koreatown business keeps neighborhood restaurants running through the pandemic.New York Times

Support our journalism

Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.


The fallout over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s indoor San Francisco haircut continues. “This salon owes me an apology,” Pelosi said in response to questions from reporters at the end of a news conference on the Democrats’ proposed coronavirus relief act that is stalled in the Senate. “… It was clearly a setup. I take responsibility for falling for a setup by a neighborhood salon I’ve gone to for many years.” The salon’s owner, Erica Kious, denied Pelosi’s claim. Then the stylist who blew out Pelosi’s hair released a statement through an attorney contradicting Kious, saying, “it appears Ms. Kious is furthering a set-up of Speaker Pelosi for her own vain aspirations.” Los Angeles Times


Uber may face big fines for stonewalling on sexual assault data. The ride-hailing company has spent nine months battling California regulators’ demands for detailed information on sexual harassment and assault claims made by its customers and drivers.Los Angeles Times


More than one person a day died of an overdose in San Francisco last year. This year is expected to be worse. San Francisco Chronicle


Meet the California residents stuck behind fire lines after defying evacuation orders. Scores of residents throughout Boulder Creek and Bonny Doon defied evacuation orders as the CZU fire moved through the Santa Cruz Mountains during the last two weeks of August. They are now stuck in the mountains, reluctant to leave, fearing that public safety officers won’t let them return home if they travel out to secure food, water and other necessities. Los Angeles Times


Vin Scully is now on Twitter. Why is the retired Dodgers announcer jumping into social media at age 92? “I miss the fans, I really do,” he said. Los Angeles Times

A poem to start your Thursday: “Theories of Time and Space” by Natasha Trethewey.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at


Los Angeles: sunny, 82. San Diego: partly sunny, 75. San Francisco: partly sunny, 66. San Jose: partly sunny, 75. Fresno: sunny, 98. Sacramento: sunny, 91. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Cat Butler:

The voice of Vin Scully is the voice of my childhood. We often drove to see my grandparents or other relatives in Orange County in a car full of teenagers insisting on music but my dad had control of the radio and it was always baseball and the voice of Scully, lulling me and relaxing me with that smooth voice. Now when I hear his voice I have the strongest flashback of being a child in the long stretch of summer and the innocence of those times.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.