In response to scorching temperatures this week, city and county officials have opened four cooling centers to help prevent a repeat of 2006, when a heat wave killed 13 Sacramentans, most of them elderly.
The National Weather Service estimates highs in Sacramento of 108 degrees today, 110 on Tuesday, 111 on Wednesday and 106 on Thursday, July 4. Sunday's high was 107.
The extended heat prompted the agency that manages the state's power grid to issue a "Flex Alert" on Sunday.
The California Independent System Operator asked Northern California consumers to conserve electricity today and Tuesday in the afternoon hours, when air conditioners drive power consumption to its highest levels.
It advises customers to avoid using heavy electrical equipment between noon and 7 p.m. and recommends raising thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and turning off unnecessary lights and appliances.
In July 2006, Sacramento experienced 11 consecutive triple-digit days, which cooled off only to the mid-80s at night. Thirteen died from heat-related illnesses three of whom were found in rooms without air conditioning in single-room occupancy hotels downtown.
The tragedy prompted officials to establish emergency protocol for heat waves, as well as regulations requiring SRO hotels to have air-conditioned space.
According to Amy Williams, a city spokeswoman, the protocol kicks in after three consecutive days well into the hundreds and three nights of 75 degrees or higher.
"We haven't met those thresholds yet (this summer), but we're erring on the side of safety," she said.
The National Weather Service says nighttime temperatures today, Tuesday and Wednesday will be in the low 70s, possibly reaching 75 degrees Tuesday night.
City and county employees will staff three cooling centers through Thursday from 2 to 9 p.m. They are the Hagginwood Community Center, the Pannell Meadowview Community Center and the Fruitridge Community Center. A fourth, at the Clunie Community Center on Alhambra Boulevard, will be open from 2 to 8 p.m.
The cooling centers will not accommodate pets, according to the city-county news release.
"It is important that people limit their time in this heat," said Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the health official for Sacramento County.
Roseville city officials announced the downtown library is open as a cooling center until 8 p.m. every day through Thursday.
Officials are monitoring conditions throughout the week. Health officials encourage residents "to drink plenty of water, and make sure you get some relief from the (hot) air for a couple of hours a day; even a short break from the conditions can help (in) shopping malls, community centers, public libraries, coffee shops and friends' homes."
Typically, the highs for this week would be in the low 90s.
Today's forecast of 108 degrees matches the record for the date set in 1950. Tuesday's high is expected to reach 110, one degree above the record set in 1991. Wednesday's predicted high of 111 would tie the 1991 record.
The heat can be attributed to a high-pressure ridge sitting on top of the western United States, with high clouds keeping the overnight temperatures warmer than normal, in the 70s. Humidity will reach 22 percent by Wednesday.
The high is expected to drop Thursday to 106 degrees, short of the record for the date of 110 set in 1991. By Sunday, the high should fall to 94.
The break in the heat comes from the high pressure weakening its hold, but don't expect too much relief next month.
"July is the hottest month," said David Rowe, a forecast meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sacramento. "We still have a lot of summer to go."
Call The Bee's Jeffrey Dastin, (916) 321-1037.