Heavy heat at the beach felt 'like a sledgehammer'

Rick Smith didn't believe his car thermometer.

It read 89 degrees as he returned to his Crescent City home from Santa Cruz on Saturday afternoon.

Smith was sure it couldn't be that hot. He's lived in Del Norte County for 35 years, and it's never been like that.

When he pulled over at South Beach and got out, the heat hit him "like a sledgehammer."

"It felt like I was in Mexico in the Tropics," Smith said. "People were swimming without wet suits. I don't ever remember it being that hot on the beach here."

Smith's car thermometer wasn't wrong, at least not by much. The temperature reached 88 degrees at Jack McNamara Field, the hottest it's been in Crescent City since 1991, said Matthew Kidwell, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

In town, which is generally warmer than out at the airport, temperatures may have pushed 90 degrees, he said.

High-altitude northeast winds blew warmer air through the hills toward the coast, also creating temperatures in the high-80s in Gasquet, Arcata, McKinleyville and Brookings, Kidwell said.

Saturday's high in Brookings, which generally heats up more than Crescent City, was actually a degree cooler at 87, Kidwell said.

Even though Saturday's heat didn't break an all-time records, the last time Del Norte County experienced such heat was on Oct. 10, 1991, when the temperature at the airport read 93 degrees, Kidwell said.

"But this is definitely the highest temperature at the airport since 2000 when we had the new observing system go in," he said. "Saturday was warm, but not the record. But it's notable, the fact that it's the warmest temperature since the all-time record was set in 1991."

The northeast winds that brought heat to Del Norte County coast on Saturday also brought thunderstorms Sunday, Kidwell said. An upper level low pressure system resulted in thundershowers in Crescent City and Brookings.

Cooler weather, fog and moisture are expected to return to Del Norte for the remainder of this week, Kidwell said.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com.