Whenever California is blasted by a heat wave, Palm Springs emerges as one of the hottest spots in the state. This year is no exception.
As temperatures climbed across the Golden State this weekend, the Southern California desert city topped out at 117 degrees Fahrenheit — a few degrees shy of its record for this time of year but still, of course, baking.
“One thing I learned the hard way was to not leave anything in the car,” said Maggie Miles, a journalist who recently moved to Palm Springs and has been helping us cover the heat wave there. “My debit card melted in my drink holder. I’ve seen the internal car temperature get up to 150 degrees.”
But what makes this heat wave particularly dangerous is its stubbornness, with scorching temperatures in Palm Springs predicted to persist for at least another week.
This weekend, the highs will be “making a run at those records” of around 120 degrees more so than they have this summer, said Brian Adams, a meteorologist with the San Diego office of the National Weather Service.
“Right now, it doesn’t look like there’s any appreciable relief on the immediate horizon,” Adams told me Monday afternoon. “We can certainly expect this high heat to be hanging around for a while.”
Palm Springs isn’t the hottest place in California; that would be the aptly named Furnace Creek in Death Valley, where the highest temperature on Earth was recorded in 1913 and which reached a whopping 126 degrees on Sunday. (The record is 134 degrees.)
But Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley are often the warmest corners of California, so its residents are no strangers to heat. Maggie told me that the locals she talked to were largely unfazed by the triple-digit temperatures, and were still going on walks and sitting outdoors at restaurants and bars — though she’s staying inside as much as possible.
As of Monday morning, more than 70 million people across the country were facing dangerous levels of heat, my colleagues reported.
Phoenix has been so hot this month that it’s poised to break a half-century-old record for consecutive days of 110-degree or more temperatures. It already set another record on Monday for most days in a row — eight — in which the overnight temperature never dropped below 90 degrees.
That unrelenting heat, dragging into the late night and early morning, is a concern in the southeast corner of California, too, where the lows may also not drop below 90 on the warmest days coming up, Adams told me. “That’s where we’re going to be experiencing a lot of the nation’s hottest temperatures over the next week or so,” he said.
Maggie spoke to Kyle Barber, who is homeless and took a long bus ride on Sunday to reach a public fountain in Cathedral City where he could seek some relief. But he couldn’t stay there all day, and many homeless people have to return to the streets or their cars at night despite the high temperatures.
“It’s the only place I can find to cool off,” he told Maggie, adding that it was his first season in the desert heat after moving from cooler temperatures in Medford, Ore.
Maggie, who is experiencing her first Palm Springs summer, said she was stunned by the contrast between the homeless population struggling to stay safe and vacationers who had come to Palm Springs seeking the dry heat. Over the weekend, she visited a hotel where hundreds of young people were soaking up the sun and drinking by the pool.
“It was jarring to walk into that and see the other side,” she told me.
Our next San Francisco bureau chief
We’re thrilled to announce that The New York Times has hired Heather Knight as its new San Francisco bureau chief. She will join us in September after two decades with The San Francisco Chronicle, where she became a must-read journalist covering one of the world’s most fascinating and frustrating cities. She has smartly and relentlessly reported on the city’s homelessness and fentanyl crises, housing shortage, struggling schools and post-pandemic recovery.
As we welcome Heather, we want to thank Thomas Fuller for his excellent run in this role over seven years. Thomas will continue to work for The Times out of California, reporting on a variety of topics within the state and beyond.
Where we’re traveling
Today’s tip comes from Marcia Geiger, who recommends Bluff Lake Reserve in the Big Bear Valley:
“Within the San Bernardino National Forest and a few miles from Big Bear Lake, there are ample camping and recreational opportunities nearby for extended stays. Otherwise it’s a great day trip for both nature lovers and families.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What are the best books about California, or the part of the state in which you live? What fiction or nonfiction would you put on a Golden State reading list, and why?
Email us at CAtoday@nytimes.com with your suggestions. Please include your name and the city where you live.
And before you go, some good news
In Cupertino, a coed softball league for people 50 and up is thriving.
The league, organized by the Cupertino Senior Center, provides camaraderie and exercise, which many people missed out on during the early days of the pandemic, The Mercury News reports.
“Everybody is fun; everybody’s out to have fun,” said Harlan Jackson, who’s been part of the league for more than a decade. “What I like about this group is that everyone is understanding about everyone else’s strengths and limitations.”