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Merced reaches record temperatures; cooldown expected

Thanks to a high-pressure weather system that's expected to fizzle out in a couple of days, Merced's triple-digit temperatures set records over the weekend. But there were no reports of heat-related medical emergencies.

Merced's temperature reached a record 103 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service office in Hanford. Today's temperature is expected to dip slightly to 99 degrees, another eight degrees lower on Tuesday and into the 70s by midweek.

Meteorologist Jim Dudley said Sunday's 103-degree reading at the Merced Municipal Airport broke the record for this date of 100 degrees set in 1973; Saturday's 103-degree reading also was a record but the previous high wasn't known.

Merced Fire Chief Ken Mitten was not aware of any heat-related medical emergencies over the weekend. When the temperature reaches 105 degrees, that triggers state criteria calling for the opening of cooling centers.

Bob McLaughlin, Mercy Medical Center Merced spokesman, said the hospital's emergency room has not experienced heat-exhaustion issues lately, which generally occur after a five or six-day period and during the week when more people are working.

Dudley, the meteorologist, said a strong ridge of high pressure centered west of the San Francisco Bay Area is responsible for the latest heat wave. It will be weakening and moving southeast on Tuesday, when Merced's temperature is expected to crest at 91 degrees.

Wednesday's high temperate is expected to be 76 degrees and the low-pressure system will produce below-normal temperatures toward the Memorial Day weekend. The complete flip-flop from the present highs will see highs in the upper 70s and low 80s, Dudley said.

Experts advise people to stay out of the hot sun, drink plenty of fluids and avoid strenuous physical activity. Those at greatest risk of heat illness are infants and young children, those age 65 and above, those overweight, ill or on certain medications or those who over-exert when it's extra hot.

The hottest it's ever been in Merced in May was May 25, 1928 when it reached 109 degrees. High temperatures are not that unlikely in May, Dudley said. When air masses become stationary over certain areas, it sets up heat waves lasting several days to several weeks.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at

(209) 385-2485 or

dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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