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Palm Springs Is Heating Up, and Only Getting Hotter

Aug 08, 2023


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California Today

California’s desert getaway is expected to face its highest temperatures of the summer later this week.

By Soumya Karlamangla and Maggie Miles

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.

For more:

See the heat forecast for your region.

How to stay safe in the heat.

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.

C.S.U. report: An outside law firm hired by California State University has determined that the 23-campus system mishandled claims of sexual misconduct, bullying and retaliation, according to a report released Monday, USA Today writes.

Right to sue: An argument by Uber to limit the ability of its drivers to take employment-related disputes to court has been rejected by the California Supreme Court, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Hollywood strike: With the ongoing W.G.A. and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the 2024 box office schedule and fall television lineups are in jeopardy.


Hate attacks down: Anti-Asian hate crimes have significantly decreased in both Los Angeles and the entire state, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Picket lines: The Los Angeles city attorney, Hydee Feldstein Soto, advised city officials to refrain from speaking out at strikes or union protests, The Los Angeles Times reports.


Cement debate: The city of Fresno wants to block the longtime quarry operator CEMEX from mining activities along the San Joaquin River and will have its appeal heard by Fresno County supervisors on Tuesday, The Fresno Bee reports.


Homeless commission: Mayor London Breed’s choice for San Francisco’s homeless commission is facing pushback for comments she made last year concerning a proposed homeless site, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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 [email protected]. 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 [email protected] with your suggestions. Please include your name and the city where you live.

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.”

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Briana Scalia and Shivani Gonzalez contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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Soumya Karlamangla is the lead writer for the California Today newsletter, where she provides daily insights and updates from her home state. More about Soumya Karlamangla


For more:C.S.U. report:Right to sue:Hollywood strike:Hate attacks down:Picket lines:Cement debate:Homeless commission:Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California.Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

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