Downtown Modesto peaked at 104 Wednesday, according to the Modesto Irrigation District — making it the hottest day of the year.
It was also toasty at the Modesto Airport, hitting a high of 107 degrees Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported. It was the highest temp recorded there this year and broke the record of 105 for the date, set in 1931.
Despite the spike in temperatures this week, the heat wave is expected to fade away by the weekend without causing much trouble in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
The hot spell, which started Tuesday, likely will not be long enough to cause heat-related ailments or other problems, said Gary Hinshaw, fire warden for Stanislaus County. He added that night-time temperatures have been cool enough to allow people to recover from the day's heat.
Just seven people signed in at The Salvation Army cooling center on Ninth Street as of 3:30 p.m., half an hour before closing.
The Weather Service forecasts 98 in Modesto today, then a plunge into the low 80s Saturday and Sunday — yet another twist in this strangest of summers. July and most of August have run about 3 degrees below the average highs. Many days were very warm, but scorchers were few.
This week's hot weather could cause sunburn on walnuts and a smaller apple crop, but agriculture overall should get through it OK, said Kathleen Kelley Anderson, interim director of the University of California Cooperative Extension in Stanislaus County.
"It's brief, so I wouldn't expect extensive damage, but I would expect some," she said.
Officials in public health, agriculture and fire protection have plans in place to deal with extreme heat. They want to avoid what happened in 2006, when temperatures topped 110 degrees for three straight days and 45 people and thousands of dairy cattle died in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at 578-2385 or firstname.lastname@example.org.