California’s heat wave breaks records, fuels wildfires

An orange glow fills the sky as the sun sets behind windmills on a triple-digit temperature day in Palm Springs.
The sun sets behind windmills on a triple-digit temperature day Wednesday in Palm Springs.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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The heat wave that continues to scorch parts of California’s interior pushed temperatures across the state into the triple digits Wednesday and Thursday, setting several daily records.

The weather is particularly hot for early June, drawing increased concern about serious health effects given that people have had little time to acclimate to the extreme heat. By Friday morning, however, the center of the high pressure ridge, which creates a heat dome effect, had shifted east, providing slight relief across Northern California.

However, dangerously temperatures remain in the forecast for the San Joaquin Valley and Mojave Desert through Friday, with concern about major heat risk keeping several heat advisories in place. In the state’s most eastern deserts, including Death Valley National Park, the National Weather Service is warning about extreme heat risk, defined as “rare and/or long-duration extreme heat with little to no overnight relief,” through Saturday. Such heat affects not just sensitive groups but “anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration,” according to the weather service.


The term ‘heat dome’ has gained prominence recently as climate change, El Niño and other variables have warmed global temperatures and shifted weather patterns.

June 5, 2024

On top of health concerns, the scorching temperatures this week brought increased fire concerns, given the dry heat and a boon in brush and grass growth from back-to-back wet winters.

Across the Central Valley, several fires broke out Thursday, including three in Kern County, one of which temporarily forced evacuations near Isabella Lake, northeast of Bakersfield. The largest of those three was near Lost Hills, growing to 3,600 acres, but was 90% contained by the end of the day. A 210-acre fire also broke out in Kings County near Kettleman City, but was completely contained by nightfall. Fire crews also responded to a small blaze in Fresno County, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In Riverside County, firefighters responded to at least two brush fires this week, including a vegetation fire in Beaumont that grew to 47 acres and a 30-acre blaze in the Jurupa Valley — but both were considered 100% contained as of Friday morning.

Record-setting temperatures

  • Palmdale set a record high for both June 5 and 6, hitting 105 degrees Wednesday, two degrees above its record from 1981, and 103 degrees on Thursday, one degree past its previous record set in 1985, according to the National Weather Service.
  • Lancaster tied its June 5 record at 103, according to the National Weather Service.
  • In Bishop in northern Inyo County, Wednesday’s high of 102 degrees tied its all-time high and set a daily record, beating out the previous record from 2021.
  • Death Valley National Park hit 122 degrees Thursday, surpassing its historical high for June 6 from 1996 by one degree.
  • Needles, close to the Arizona border, also slipped past its June 6 record by one degree, hitting 115 degrees.
  • Fresno tied a 121-year-old record for the day Thursday, hitting 107 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Madera and Hanford came one degree shy of tying their June 6 daily records.
  • All three San Joaquin Valley cities also set or tied records for the highest minimum temperature for the date. Fresno recorded a low of 78 degrees, breaking the prior record of 75 degrees from 1926. Madera’s low of 70 degrees was its highest minimum temperature by one degree. Hanford tied its highest minimum temperature at 71 degrees.
  • Santa Rosa set a daily record high at 100 degrees Tuesday, beating out the 1949 record by two degrees.

Wednesday and Thursday’s hottest temperatures

These daily maximum temperatures were reported by the National Weather Service, as of Friday morning. The first temperature listed was the high Wednesday. The second temperature is the high for Thursday.

Southern California:

  • Palmdale: 105 degrees / 103 degrees
  • Lancaster: 103 degrees / 102 degrees
  • Acton: 101 degrees / 99 degrees

Central Valley and Coast:

  • Paso Robles: 103 degrees / 93 degrees
  • China Lake: 109 degrees / 110 degrees
  • Inyokern: 110 degrees / 112 degrees
  • Merced: 102 degrees / 105 degrees
  • Fresno: 101 degrees / 107 degrees

Southern California deserts:

  • Apple Valley: 105 degrees / 104 degrees
  • Palm Springs: 107 degrees / 112 degrees
  • Blythe Airport: 109 degrees / 112 degrees
  • Bishop: 102 degrees / 102 degrees
  • Needles: 113 degrees / 115 degrees
  • Death Valley National Park: 118 degrees / 122 degrees

Northern California:

  • Livermore Airport: 101 degrees / 91 degrees
  • Pinnacles National Park: 104 degrees / 104 degrees
  • Redding: 106 degrees / 105 degrees
  • Ukiah: 98 degrees / 103 degrees