Sacramento came close to being the hottest spot in the nation Friday.
The temperature in downtown Sacramento hit 79 degrees, two degrees shy of the 81 degrees in Lemoore, southwest of Fresno, which recorded the highest daytime temperature nationwide.
But the temperature made Friday the hottest January day ever recorded in downtown Sacramento, said Stefanie Henry, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The previous record for Jan. 24 was 70 degrees, set in 1984, while the record for the month of January was 74 degrees, set Jan. 31, 1976. It was the 10th day this month that the downtown Sacramento location had posted a record high, Henry said.
Sacramento Executive Airport also set a new high for the date Friday, topping out at 75 degrees. The previous record was 70 degrees set in 1976.
Temperatures in Sacramento peaked by midafternoon, before winds shifted to a more southwesterly direction, cutting off the warm offshore flow, Henry said.
Most communities in the Sacramento region had temperatures in the high 70s.
Stockton and Modesto also set records for the date. Stockton had a high of 74 degrees, toppling the old record of 69 degrees set in 1976, and Modesto had a high of 73 degrees, also topping a 1976 record of 68 degrees.
“We have a little cooler forecast for the weekend, as we transition into a different kind of weather pattern,” Henry said.
It will continue warm and dry through the weekend, with a high around 71 forecast for today in Sacramento and 69 degrees for Sunday. Highs in the low 60s are expected in foothill areas such as Placerville, while highs in the low 50s are forecast for the Truckee and Lake Tahoe areas.
A more significant pattern change may occur by Thursday or Friday, holding out the possibility for rain.
“It’s still pretty far out, so the model has a tendency to change,” Henry said, but she noted “there’s some hope.”
Red-flag warnings for heightened fire conditions on the west slope of the Sierra were lifted Friday as winds died down. But fire officials continue to urge caution.
Because of the drought, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reminded property owners that it is particularly important to clear 100 feet of defensible space around structures. Although the mild weather is conducive to outdoor work, fire officials cautioned that warm, dry conditions increase the risk of power equipment sparking the types of fires the clearing operations are intended to guard against.
Clearance work should be done in the early morning, when temperatures are down and humidity is up, fire officials say. Fire officials stress that power equipment such as lawn mowers and weed trimmers should not be used during the heat of the day when it’s dry and windy, and especially not on days with red-flag warnings.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.