Extreme weather this weekend in Merced County. Heat may ‘be at dangerous levels’

Staying safe in hot temperatures

As the mercury rises, so does the risk of heat-related illness. An emergency department doctor has tips on how to stay safe in the heat.
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As the mercury rises, so does the risk of heat-related illness. An emergency department doctor has tips on how to stay safe in the heat.

Thunderstorms and red hot temperatures threaten to make the upcoming weekend more than unpleasant in Merced County, forecasters say.

Merced has seen temperatures higher than 100 every day since Sunday and that is not expected to change until July 30, making it the longest stretch of high heat this summer, according to Carlos Molina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

Highs have hovered around 104 but could reach as high as 110 this weekend, he said. “By this weekend we’re going with a heat warning. It just means it will be at dangerous levels,” Molina said.

A high-pressure system is hanging over the Four Corners region of the country, he said, driving warm air from the coast of Mexico into California and forcing cooler air up toward the Pacific Northwest.

With that warm air comes moisture and likely thunderstorms up above 8,000 feet in the foothills, Molina said. Heavy rain, hail and lightning could also be seen down as far as 4,000 feet.

“Usually going up in the mountains gives you a little relief but right now, because of the moisture coming up, the mountains are a little bit dangerous,” Molina said.

Heat warnings mean along with avoiding activity during the hottest part of the day, experts say, forecasters recommend residents check on elderly neighbors. Pets should be brought inside or given otherwise cool shelter and ample water.

In areas with poor air quality, people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory diseases should minimize outdoor activities, health officials say. Extreme heat poses a substantial health risk, especially in vulnerable populations such as young children, elderly people, those with chronic diseases, pregnant women, people with disabilities and those who are socially isolated.

Look out for heat-related illnesses like cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and death, experts say. Warning signs vary but may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, paleness, tiredness or dizziness.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.