Tuesday’s high in Fresno hit a broiling 102 degrees, but the hot weather didn’t stop construction workers or others toiling outside from getting the job done.
At the intersection of Palm and McKinley avenues, construction workers were cutting into the concrete to lay new wiring for the signal lights. At 10 a.m., it already was in the 90s.
“I’ve already had eight bottles of water today,” said Gabriel Amely, an electrician who was using a vacuum to suck up the water and sludge coming from the saw.
The electrician says he is used to the heat, and after a while, he doesn’t notice it. Amely and his co-workers stay cool by taking breaks in the shade and drinking lots of water.
Tuesday and Wednesday are forecast to be the hottest days of the week, both over 100 degrees. Temperatures will cool off slightly for Thursday, Friday and Saturday – upper 90s – but starting Sunday, it’s back to triple-digit weather.
The central San Joaquin Valley isn’t the only area dealing with intense heat. Southern California residents were facing wildfires and power outages on Tuesday. The record-breaking heat wave isn’t helping either of those things.
In Fresno, many workers know how to handle the heat.
“We do all the hard stuff in the morning,” Daniel Canales says. Canales works with Arise Solar, a local alternative energy company that installs solar panels for homes and businesses.
Canales and his co-workers started at 7 a.m. to get most of the work done before temperatures started to sear.
They have to be off the roof by 2 p.m. The workers’ weight, and the heat, can damage the roof. Workers’ boots can rub off the sandy texture of the roof tiles, which in turn can cause workers to slip, says Mike Perez, the quality assurance manager at Arise Solar.
Roofs and attics can be 10 to 15 degrees hotter than outside temperatures, and black roofs especially put off a lot of heat, he says. Some attics can get up to 115 degrees.
“It’s a miserable place to be,” Perez says. By putting safety measures in place, he adds, workers can keep heat exhaustion from happening in the first place.
There are two gallons of cold water per worker, and at least one awning set up with enough shade so that a person’s shadow can’t be seen. If the temperature is above 80 degrees, workers take breaks every hour.
Canales says things like not eating a heavy lunch help, too.
“You get lazy. It’s hard to bend over,” he laughed.
While the Valley baked, Southern California was beginning to catch a break from record heat. At midmorning Tuesday, the temperature in downtown Los Angeles was 16 degrees lower than at the same time 24 hours earlier, when it was nearing 100.
Mountains and deserts remain extremely hot, but the National Weather Service says the heat wave that has fried Southern California with extraordinary temperatures is moderating, especially toward the coast.
A good thing too: the heat wave was complicating efforts to battle wildfires in the San Gabriel Mountains. About 770 homes in the foothill city of Duarte were under evacuation orders, and residents of Bradbury and Monrovia just to the west were urged to be ready to leave immediately if given the word.
Like Fresno, Southern California temperatures are forecast to cool off for the rest of the week. Going into next week, however, temperatures are expected to rise again.