California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires

California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires
People flock to the beach in Venice Beach, California to escape the heat wave on September 4, 2020. (AFP / Robyn Beck)
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Updated 05 September 2020

California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires

California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires
  • Death Valley — located near California's border with Nevada — recording a high of 130 degrees F (54.4 C), one of the hottest

LOS ANGELES: California is bracing for record-breaking temperatures and dangerous fire weather conditions this Labor Day weekend, with the National Weather Service urging people to limit outdoor activity and to stay hydrated.
“Saturday and Sunday will be about 20 to 30 degrees above normal across the entire area,” Frank Fisher, a NWS meteorologist for the southern part of the state, told AFP.
“By Monday, we should be 10 to 20 degrees above normal ... but still very warm and dangerous outside,” he added.
Fisher said temperatures are expected to peak to 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 Celsius) in the Los Angeles area on Sunday and to 118 Fahrenheit (47.8 Celsius) further inland in Woodland Hills.
Excessive heat warnings through the holiday weekend and possibly beyond have also been issued in other western states including Arizona and Nevada.
The warm temperatures in California come as the state is recovering from another heat wave in mid-August and devastating wildfires that have burned some 1.5 million acres in the last three weeks.
That heat wave also set records, with Death Valley — located near the border with Nevada — recording a high of 130 degrees, one of the hottest temperatures ever measured on Earth with modern instruments.
Weather forecasters said red flag warnings indicating the potential for dangerous fire conditions had been issued in many parts of California for the weekend, notably in the Santa Barbara mountains, north of Los Angeles.
“We have the heat, winds and low humidity,” a perfect cocktail for fires, Fisher said.
“Our big issue with this excessive heat,” he added, “is the fact that it’s a holiday weekend and a lot of people are going out.”
He said the National Weather Service was recommending people refrain from outdoor activities such as hiking and remain indoors during the day.
Once the sun sets, however, evening temperatures are not expected to bring much relief.
“This is going to be the warmest nighttimes we are going to have in a while,” Fisher said. “We are looking for temperatures to be in the upper 70s and even upper 80s, the warmest being Saturday night.”
And if you’re expecting to go to a restaurant in the Los Angeles area or other regions, where only outdoor dining is allowed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, you may want to think twice.
“Outdoor dining is not going to work this weekend,” Fisher said.
The situation is not expected to be any better further north — in the Bay Area and beyond — where dangerous hot conditions are also predicted.
“It’s certainly gonna be hot all over,” said Jonathan Garner, a NWS meteorologist for that region.
“In areas like Ukiah, the record of 108 degrees could be exceeded by one or two degrees,” he told AFP, referring to a city about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of San Francisco.


Olympic fans from aboard may have health tracked by app

Updated 19 min 34 sec ago

Olympic fans from aboard may have health tracked by app

Olympic fans from aboard may have health tracked by app
  • Japan has controlled the virus better than most countries with just over 2,100 deaths attributed to COVID-19
  • But Tokyo has seen record numbers of infections in recent weeks

TOKYO: A mobile app could be among the measures used to track the health of fans from abroad if they are permitted to attend next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
An interim report on contingencies for holding the Tokyo Games was released on Wednesday. It was compiled by the Japanese government, the Tokyo city government and local organizers.
The portion concerning the app was leaked earlier in the day by Japanese newspaper Nikkei. It was met on social media by unhappy replies from Japanese citizens who fear the Olympics could put their health in jeopardy.
Japan, with a population of 125 million, has controlled the virus better than most countries with just over 2,100 deaths attributed to COVID-19. But Tokyo has seen record numbers of infections in recent weeks.
Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the local organizing committee, explained some findings of the report. But he was short on specifics in the online briefing. Some proposals might be discarded as conditions change, and almost everything is subject to revision.
“In general, I think we would like to be able to work out the details by next spring,” he said, suggesting the groundwork had been prepared for many contingencies with the possibility of vaccines and rapid testing on the horizon.
It was in the spring eight months ago when organizers and the International Olympic Committee finally decided to postpone the Olympics after repeatedly saying they would go ahead this year.
Muto hinted again that the Tokyo Olympics may not be much fun. Athletes will compete and then be expected to to go home.
“The basic principle is that the accommodation period in the Athletes Village is supposed to be minimized as much as possible,” Muto said. “We want to be sure that the Athletes Village doesn’t get too dense. And after the games we would like them (athletes) to go back (home) as early as possible.”
He was asked point-blank if the Olympics would have a “celebratory atmosphere.”
“If the games are to be held under the COVID-19 pandemic, I don’t think the Olympics will be as festive as they have been in the past,” he said. “We decided to hold a simplified Olympics. Therefore, as you can see in the planning for the opening ceremony, the Tokyo Olympics will be simplified rather than celebratory.”
Muto was also asked about the cost of the one-year postponement, but said he didn’t know yet. Some Japanese newspapers reported several days ago, citing unnamed sources close to the organizing committee, that the cost of the delay will be about $3 billion.
“We are in the process of the calculation of how much the cost is,” Muto said. “We would like to reach a decision as soon as possible but when it will come — I can’t give you a specific date. But by the end of the year we’d like to make an effort to come up with an answer.”
He was also asked if fans from abroad would be required to be vaccinated.
“This is a scenario we will start to examine once the vaccine is actually available,” he said.