It's not yet summer, but it's not too early for extreme summer heat.
Record-high temperatures, peaking at 105 degrees, are expected to hit the Sacramento region today and Saturday.
At least until the Delta breeze kicks in Sunday across the Valley, when the thermometer may plunge below 90 degrees, health officials advise that this is not the time to sip alcoholic cocktails under the sun. That will only further dehydrate you amid the withering heat.
And state fire officials suggest that you not even think about barbecuing outdoors or mowing that dry grass in the Sierra foothills. They warn that two days of dry, scorching weather, followed by threats of lightning strikes Sunday, means elevated danger for wildfires.
"In this kind of weather, even a smoldering look can cause a fire," said Janet Upton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
National Weather Service officials are predicting temperatures in Sacramento will hit 102 today tying a record from 1883. The heat is expected to reach 105 on Saturday, burning past the high of 103 recorded in 1973.
Weather officials were originally predicting even hotter conditions before determining that a cooling breeze could slip in between competing high and low pressure systems. That would allow high temperatures to drop back down to a comparatively chilly 89 degrees Sunday.
Until then, "there is just going to be a lot of hot air coming in," said National Weather Service meteorologist Drew Pearson. "It's unusual to be this hot, this early."
While the Sacramento region is certainly used to its summer swelters, Dr. Peter Hull, emergency medical director for the Sutter Roseville Medical Center, is putting out warnings early this year on coping with heat.
"Doing everything possible to avoid being out in the heat is the first priority," said Hull. He added that "the young, the very old, the sick and the obese" should take particular care to drink plenty of fluids and stay in the air-conditioned indoors whether it's at home or in a chilled shopping mall or theater.
He warned of signs of heat exhaustion. It may start with cramping. In severe cases, vomiting, diarrhea or disorientation may mean someone needs medical attention and should call 911.
"It's really at the point where it's pretty dangerous to be outside unless you're around or in a pool or some other body of water," Hull said of the forecast.
In Roseville, the All American Speedway decided not to risk the combination of hot, screeching cars and blazing asphalt. Officials there canceled Saturday's NASCAR racing event.
"It was a tough decision but we feel that it is in the best interest of our fans, race teams and our staff," said Placer County Fair & Events Center CEO John Javidan.
At the Senior Center of Elk Grove, bingo day will go as scheduled today, safely cool and indoors. "I don't care what the weather is, they can play bingo," said executive director Pat Beal. But seniors at the center will refrain from exercise activities and outdoor walks that the center sponsors at neighboring Beeman Park.
Beal said visitors to the center will be given plenty of water and watched closely for any signs of heat stress.
Meanwhile, Doggy Dash, an annual benefit for Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, will go on Saturday at William Land Park with as many as 2,000 canines and 5,000 humans frolicking until noon. There will be water bowls and doggie splash pools, veterinarians at the ready and water stations for the dogs' human companions.
SPCA Community Coordinator Julianne Byer said the 9 a.m. event will end at noon instead of 1 p.m. because of the heat. The featured 2K and 5K people/dog races are being downgraded to noncompetitive people and dog walks.
And while Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate will still leap for Frisbees, Byer said, "All pug activities have been canceled." Their stubby noses can't handle the temperature, she said.
In downtown Sacramento, construction workers David Garcia and Manuel Barajas, both 30, will take extra precautions.
Barajas operates a backhoe tractor at a condo construction project and Garcia does accompanying shovel work to dig around underground utility lines.
They're packing extra ice coolers of water and planning more shade breaks.
"There will be a lot of sweating," said Garcia. He knows to take special care in the heat. Otherwise, "You can get dizzy and headaches," he said.
As the Valley heats up, Nicole Tunnell of Whitewater Connections, a rafting company on the south fork of the American River in Lotus, expects a lotus-like day on the legendary river stretch near Coloma.
"It's always good to go out on the water and cool off," said Tunnell, who will run rafting tours from Lotus to Folsom Lake. "There are lots of calm pools where people can jump out and swim. And when you get into the rapids, you get splashed."
Tunnell said people going onto the river without professional rafting guides should make sure to have adequate drinking water and sunscreen, along with protective helmets with sun visors. Meanwhile, she said, consuming any alcohol is a dangerous idea, presenting an elevated risk for both heat exposure and drowning.
Sue Brown, who is coordinating Pops in the Park, a concert benefiting neighborhood projects and youth sports programs in east Sacramento, hopes the heat will show some mercy by 6 p.m. Saturday. That's when the rhythm and blues band Mercy Me is expected to take the stage at Glenn Hall Park in River Park.
"Hopefully, it will cool off enough," Brown said, "so people will come out of their air-conditioned houses and have some fun."
Beat the heat
Sacramentos starting to boil with temperatures expected to climb above 100 degrees today and Saturday. But you dont need to flee the region to stay cool. Weve identified 10 ways to beat the heat in Sacramento.
* Lick up snow cones and taste traditional Japanese treats at Osaka Ya, a local staple: 2215 10th St. in Sacramento.
* Ride the waves at Folsom Lake. You can rent boats near Granite Bay, or you can hike or swim in the area.
* For an early start on that summer tan, lay out on Paradise Beach in Sacramentos River Park neighborhood.
* Sample craft beers tonight at the seventh annual Raley Field Brewfest. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Participants must be 21 years or older: Raley Field, 400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento.
* Be a tourist in your own city and spend an afternoon at the Crocker Art Museum. Enjoy a small but tasteful exhibit of contemporary woodcarving, included with the price of admission. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 general, $8 for senior citizens and college students, $5 for children ages 7-17, and free for 6 and younger: 216 O St., Sacramento.
* Head to Raging Waters for tube slides and a carnival of pools. $21.99 if youre shorter than 4 feet or a senior citizen, $30.99 for everyone else: Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento.
* If you want water with more wilderness, raft down the American River, starting in the white rapids of Placer County. You can rent from American River Raft Rentals: 11257 S. Bridge St., Rancho Cordova.
* Strut your pups on Saturday at the 20th Anniversary Doggy Dash inWilliamLand Park. $30 for individuals and $40 for teams: Sutterville Road at Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento.
* Get your 70s groove on at ExtrABBAganza, a concert by the Sacramento Gay Mens Chorus featuring classics by ABBA at 8 p.m. today and Saturday. $25 general admission: Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento.
* Theres nothing wrong with staying indoors. Watch French Open tennis from the comfort of your living room, or check out the latest releases at your local movie theater.
Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.