It was hot, sticky and muggy, but Modesto survived Friday, the first day of a heat wave that could bring a high temperature of 106 degrees before it ends by the middle of next week.
Stanislaus County authorities did not report any heat-related problems, but they stressed the worst has yet to come. They strongly advised residents to check on vulnerable neighbors: those who live alone and are elderly or frail and isolated.
The National Weather Service has issued an "excessive heat watch" from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon in the greater Sacramento area, which includes Modesto. The watch goes into effect when there are prolonged high temperatures and it doesn't cool off much at night.
It was 104 degrees just before 6 p.m. Friday at the Modesto Airport, according to the weather service.
Weather Underground predicts daytime highs of 103 to 106 degrees today through Wednesday, with nighttime lows in the lower to mid-70s. Independence Day could offer the first relief in the weather, with a predicted high of 96.
This heat wave packs some moisture, bringing more humidity. The humidity percentage typically is in the high single digits to lower teens. The humidity percentage during the heat wave will be in the low 20s, NWS meteorologist Tom Dang said.
Dang said the potential for clouds moving in Tuesday and Wednesday is a concern because the cloud cover could bring very warm, humid nights. It was that combination of triple-digit temperatures during the days and hot, humid nights that led to the deaths of 23 people in Stanislaus County during a 2006 heat wave.
Seventy percent of those who died in 2006 lived alone, said Dr. John Walker, the county's public health officer. That's why authorities are urging residents to check on vulnerable neighbors. Authorities also are taking their own steps.
The Area Agency on Aging and the county's Community Services Agency are checking on clients during the heat wave, said Deborah Thrasher, program manager with the Modesto Regional Fire Authority's office of emergency services.
The Salvation Army has opened its homeless shelter at Ninth and D streets in Modesto as a cooling center from noon to 4 p.m.
The cooling center closes at 4 p.m. so the shelter can bring in its special-needs clients, such as the elderly. Salvation Army officials said because part of the shelter is being remodeled, they don't have the space to operate the cooling center and special-needs program at the same time.
But Friday, about 18 homeless men and women sat in an air-conditioned dorm in the shelter, drinking ice water and watching a DVD of Steven Spielberg's "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."
"It's a lot cooler here than it is outside," said Steve Walker, 63, who added he is a big Spielberg fan.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.