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Yeah, it's hot in Modesto area, but it could be a lot worse

Getting through this heat wave, such as it is, could be one of those mind-over-matter things.

Just remind yourself, the National Weather Service's Johnnie Powell said, that it's not as bad as it might seem and certainly not as hot as it could be.

"We're mild, compared to normal for this time of year," he said Thursday.

While temperatures have ventured into triple digits three days in a row, including Thursday, the heat hasn't lived up to the advanced billing. The forecast called for 103 degrees on Tuesday. In Modesto, it hit only 100. Wednesday, we expected 106 degrees and the high reached 101.

And if a few days of 100-degree heat are bothersome, harken back to a few weeks ago, when it was unseasonably pleasant, he said.

"We started off so cool," Powell said. "The end of June and the early part of July, we had seven days in a row between 81 and 90 degrees. It was 87 on July 4th, and stayed that way until it hit 90 on July 11th."

The key, he said, is the nighttime cooldowns. Temperatures have dropped into the 60s most nights — unlike the deadly heat wave of 2006, when they remained in the 80s.

Stanislaus County’s Office of Emergency Services uses the overnight temperatures — not the daytime highs — to gauge whether to open its cooling centers.

"If at night, it doesn't go below 80, we open them," said Bill Houk, director of special operations. Consequently, none of the county-operated centers are open.

In fact, only one cooling center in the area is open, at the Salvation Army in downtown Modesto.

"If its over 95 degrees, we open the cooling center from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., said Jerry Morris, the organization's director of homeless services.

Because of the cool evening temperatures, this triple-digit streak lacks the punch of others, weatherman Powell said.

"We won't just pop up to 110," Powell said. "It's 100, then 102. Maybe 105. It's gradual, and that's a good sign."

While the forecast calls for 103-degree highs through Monday, Powell said he wouldn’t be surprised if the thermometer dipped back under 100 one of those days — maybe as early as Saturday.

"Just one more day, then it goes down," he predicted.

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