An excessive heat wave is hitting the Coachella Valley this weekend, with temperatures expected to reach 114 to 118 degrees in the desert’s first bout with the hundred-teens this summer.
An excessive heat watch is in effect through 8 p.m. Monday for the area, with Saturday and Sunday expected to be the hottest days.
Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and cool in the Coachella Valley this summer.
Summers are getting hotter in the Coachella Valley
All of the top five hottest summers in Coachella Valley history happened within the past six years, showing how climate change is driving up average temperatures in the region. In 2021, the region experienced the hottest summer record since the historical temperature record began a century ago in 1992, with an average temperature of 94 degrees. Last summer was close behind, with an average temperature of 93.9 degrees.
Hottest June-September periods in Coachella Valley history:
- 2021, average temperature of 94 degrees
- 2022, average temperature of 93.9 degrees
- 2018, average temperature of 93.5 degrees
- 2020, average temperature of 93.4 degrees
- 2017, average temperature of 92.5 degrees
And it’s only getting hotter. Climate change is expected to push average high temperatures in the Coachella Valley up by 8 to 14 degrees by the end of this century. Across the U.S., extreme heat events are expected to be more frequent and intense in coming decades, bringing increased health risks. Hotter temperatures increase the risk for a variety of health problems, including dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, increased risk of hospitalization for heart disease, and worsening asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Nighttime temperatures are on the rise
Last year was the Coachella Valley’s second-hottest summer on record, and the temperature never even got to 120 degrees (which it has in the past). Nor did the area set all-time high temperature records, which did happen back in 2021. The culprit for last summer’s heat was higher-than-normal nighttime temperatures, which is part of a broader trend across the U.S.
Last August, 30 out of 31 days saw a minimum temperature that was higher than normal in the Coachella valley, with these higher nighttime minimum temperatures driving up the summer’s average temperatures.
That trend of hotter summer nights is expected to continue. Since 1970, average summer minimum (or nighttime) temperatures have warmed by 3 degrees Fahrenheit on average in 230 U.S. locations analyzed by Climate Central. Summer nights are warming even faster in the west region, by 3.5 degrees on average. Summer minimum temperatures in the U.S. are warming at a rate that’s nearly twice as fast as the warming rate for summer daytime high temperatures.
Sweltering nighttime summer temperatures mean the body has less of a chance to cool off after extremely hot days, which can worsen heat stress and other health risks in the summer.
How to stay safe and avoid heat-related injuries
More than 700 people die from extreme heat every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People of all ages and risk factors should take these steps to prevent heat-related injuries:
- Stay in air-conditioned indoor locations as much as possible.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen when outdoors.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Monitor those most at-risk for injuries, including infants and young children, people 65 and older, those who are overweight, those who overexert during work or exercise, or those who are physically ill.
- Never leave children or pets in cars.
Meterologist Brian Adams with the National Weather Service also advises that Coachella Valley residents limit time outside between the hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., particularly around 2 and 3 p.m. when the hottest temperatures are expected during the day.
You should also recognize the signs of heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea, and weakness, according to NOAA, and if you or someone you’re with is experiencing these symptoms you should act fast by moving to a cooler area, sipping cool water, loosening clothing, and seeking medical help if symptoms don’t improve. If unresolved, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability without emergency treatment. The symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, dizziness, or unconsciousness, and if someone is experiencing these symptoms 911 should be called immediately.
How to conserve energy during heat waves
Utility companies are already warning residents to conserve energy during the heat wave to avoid potential blackouts. Excessive use of air conditioners during heat waves can strain power grids, causing grid operators to implement rolling blackouts. These blackouts can be potentially life-threatening, leaving people without air conditioning and power just when they need it most.
Imperial Irrigation District, which is based in Imperial County and also provides power to La Quinta, Indio, Coachella, Bermuda Dunes and other unincorporated areas, as well as small parts of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells, has issued an energy conservation alert from the morning of Saturday, July 1 through 9 p.m. on Monday, July 3. The alert is a “call to consumers to voluntarily conserve energy when demand for power could outstrip supply” to help avoid power outages, according to a press release from IID
IID is asking customers to:
- Set air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees, or higher, when home. When leaving home, adjust your thermostat to a higher temperature.
- Avoid use of major appliances (dishwashers, washers, dryers, ovens, pool pumps, applicable industrial equipment, charging electric vehicles, etc.) between the hours of 4-9 p.m.
- Turn off unnecessary lights.
- Unplug, or turn off, electrical devices that are not being used.
- Keep blinds and drapes closed to prevent the sun from heating up the home.
- Use floor or ceiling fans when possible, however, turn fans off when you leave a room as they only cool people, not spaces.”
Southern California Edison is also recommending that customers reduce electricity usage between 4 and 9 p.m., by using energy-intensive appliances outside of those hours and pre-cooling homes earlier in the day, then setting the air conditioner to 78 degrees or higher during those peak hours.
The utility is also planning pre-scheduled power outages that will impact hundreds of Palm Springs residents over the next two weeks, which drew criticism from the Palm Springs City Council for the decision to shut off power during summer’s extreme heat.
Some local cities require air conditioning in rental units
While California state law requires residential units to have heating systems to keep the indoor temperature about 70 degrees during cooler months, there’s no state standard for air conditioning or cooling during hotter months. That leaves air conditioning and cooling requirements up to individual cities, which can choose whether to add a requirement for cooling systems to the building code.
The city of Los Angeles this month began studying a potential cooling mandate that would require all rental units to have an air conditioner or central air.
For Coachella Valley residents, whether or not you have a similar protection depends on where you live. Cathedral City and Palm Springs both require dwelling units to have air conditioning facilities that can maintain a maximum temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in all habitable rooms. Landlords in those two valley cities are required to supply and maintain air conditioning in rental units.
All other valley cities follow the state building code without any additional requirements for air conditioning.
Cooling centers open across the valley
If you need a free space to cool off, here’s a full list of cooling centers available throughout the Coachella Valley:
- Coachella Senior Center: 1540 7th St., Coachella. Open 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Desert Hot Springs Library: 14-380 Palm Drive, Desert Hot Springs. Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
- Desert Hot Springs Senior Center: 11-777 West Drive, Desert Hot Springs. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Seniors only.
- Coachella Valley Rescue Mission: 84-110 Manila Street, Indio. Open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
- Indio Senior Center: 45-700 Aladdin St., Indio. Open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Seniors only.
- Martha’s Village & Kitchen: 83-791 Date Ave., Indio. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
- La Quinta Wellness Center: 78-450 Ave La Fonda, La Quinta. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Mecca Community Center: 65-250 Coahuila St., Mecca. Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
- North Shore Beach and Yacht Club: 99155 Sea View Drive, North Shore. Open 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Josyln Center: 73-750 Catalina Way, Palm Desert. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Only open to those 55 and older.
- Palm Desert Community Center : 43-900 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert. Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Palm Desert Library: 73-300 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
- Demuth Community Center: 3601 E. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center: 480 W. Tramview Road, Palm Springs. Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Palm Springs Public Library: 300 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
- Jerry Rummonds Senior & Community Center: 87-229 Church St., Thermal. Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Art Samson Community Library: 31-189 Robert Road, Thousand Palms. Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Previous reporting from Desert Sun reporter Ema Sasic was used in this report.