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California's Central Valley Residents Try To Stay Cool In Record Heat

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

California's Central Valley expects record temperatures this weekend, reaching dangerous levels in places like Fresno. Valley Public Radio's Soreath Hok reports that people are looking for ways to defend against the heat.

SOREATH HOK, BYLINE: The fan section of this Fresno hardware store is getting lots of traffic. One of the shoppers is 83-year-old Larry Calderwood (ph).

LARRY CALDERWOOD: Looking around maybe for another just air circulator for the kitchen.

HOK: He says it's been years since he's bought a new fan, but with this weekend's forecast, he figured it was time.

CALDERWOOD: Just decided maybe with the heat coming on now, we'd just add one.

HOK: Across the street, Sergeant Philip Rodriguez (ph) takes a smoothie break with his team of Marine Corps recruits.

PHILIP RODRIGUEZ: Being out here, definitely the heat is on.

HOK: They had just finished a morning workout.

RODRIGUEZ: Multiple, like, sprints, carries with water jugs - you name it. We did a bunch of activities, right? And then just to cool off - smoothies.

HOK: At the National Weather Service's regional office, meteorologist Andy Bollenbacher is advising people to avoid outdoor activities with the excessive heat warning in place. He says this kind of heat wave is rare.

ANDY BOLLENBACHER: So we're probably going to see some daily records broken.

HOK: Temperatures across the Central Valley could climb up to 114 degrees. In Death Valley to the east of Fresno, it could reach 130 degrees. The warming climate is making heat waves like this one more frequent and intense. Bollenbacher says California's drought conditions are making temperatures even worse.

BOLLENBACHER: The drought can actually allow the lowest layers of the atmosphere to get even hotter.

HOK: He says all of it creates the perfect heat storm.

BOLLENBACHER: You have a big ridge of high pressure. You have a drought. And then you have the sun angle being really strong this time of the year. Those three things come together, and you get a pretty profound heat wave.

HOK: The excessive heat warning lasts through Monday. Cooling centers in the region plan to stay open through the weekend.

For NPR News, I'm Soreath Hok in Fresno. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.