“The big warm up starts today, with many inland areas hitting the 80-degree mark, and the lower deserts getting into the upper 90s,” the National Weather Service’s (NWS) San Diego branch tweeted Wednesday.
The heat wave is the result of a high-pressure system that could strengthen over the weekend — heating up inland areas more than the coast, according to the NWS.
In Southern California’s Coachella Valley, temperatures could climb up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the agency warned.
While the weather is expected to cool down next week, the heat may be sufficient to begin melting the massive amounts of snow that piled up on California mountainsides this winter.
“This is no longer just a warmish spell,” University of California, Los Angeles climate scientist Daniel Swain said in a video Monday, pointing to “genuinely hot” areas inland by mid-late this week.
Inland areas that could be affected by this “fairly substantial early season heat wave” include parts of Central California’s San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada foothills, according to Swain.
These are some of the same areas that have concerned both local officials and scientists when it comes to the inevitable spring snowmelt and consequent flooding.
“In the context of what we have right now, which is still a record-breaking snowpack in the southern Sierra, this is going to rapidly accelerate snowmelt,” Swain said.
“Snowmelt has already been occurring at an increasing pace in recent days,” he continued. “A lot of rivers that are currently fairly high but well within their banks might exceed flood stage by later this week.”
In anticipation of the spring and summer deluge, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday toured Central California’s Tulare Basin, which has already been affected by flooding.
As Sierra Nevada snowmelt escalates in the coming weeks, this San Joaquin Valley agricultural powerhouse will likely incur further inundation and destruction.
“You can look at a scene like this and think the worst is going to recede, that the worst is behind us, when in fact, quite the contrary,” Newsom said at a Tuesday press conference.
“Every day you’re seeing incremental — a half inch, an inch — of more water, new water present itself here in this basin,” the governor added.
Newsom stressed the importance of being vigilant and continuing to provide support to the region, where floods are destroying farmlands, harming businesses and dislocating homeowners.
“All of us are mindful of the impacts of neglect,” he added. “All of us are mindful of the impacts of delay. And so there is a sense of urgency.”