Heatwave challenges Auburn event organizers

Attendance affected as temperatures soar
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - The ice cream at Auburn’s historic Bernhard House was in meltdown mode during the Heritage Trail museums tour Saturday and Sunday. On soccer pitches throughout the Auburn area, players gamely gave it their all in triple-digit temperatures. Funk music fans found shelter in the shade and cooler evening weather on Saturday. Auburn’s venerable Cruise Nite had a drop in vintage vehicles on Friday. And the National Weather Service is predicting Placer County and the surrounding region will continue to swelter in a summer heat wave that has seen temperatures rise from 10 to 15 degrees above mid-August averages. Melanie Barton, Placer County museums administrator, said Monday that, while attendance was down from last year’s tour of 18 museums from Roseville to North Lake Tahoe, volunteers and participants were able to beat the heat and make it a successful event. “The heat had an impact,” Barton said. “I went around to 15 museums and attendance was slightly down at all of them. But it was still a grand event.” With the prospect of some oven-like heat descending on the event, Barton said she sent a message out to museums to ensure water was available and to be on the lookout for signs of heat stroke. Barton said temperatures were around 106 degrees at their hottest. “We served root beer floats but by the time they were ready to drink, the ice cream had melted,” Barton said. Dennis Wingate, tournament director and vice president of the 49er United Soccer Club, said close to 3,000 people showed up to either play or watch games during the 14th annual Gold Rush Classic tournament involving 98 teams over the weekend. Teams kept their cool both on and off the pitch with temperatures running at about 103 to 106 for late-afternoon games and not much relief from the heat the rest of the day, Wingate said. Water misters were brought in for players at two fields and a special water break 15 minutes into each half was put into effect. “There were no injuries and no problems with the heat – everyone stayed well-hydrated,” Wingate said. “And there were no red cards issued.” The outdoor A-Town Phunk Phest at the Gold Country Fairgrounds on Saturday also managed to survive the heat. Organizer Rich Krieger said that close to 250 people attended the event, which took advantage of cooler temperatures in the evening and shade offered at the fairgrounds. Nonetheless, Krieger wasn’t taking any chances, with a first aid booth stocking sports drinks and sunscreen. Watermelon sales by the slice were popular, Krieger added. “The heat definitely dug a hole for us in terms of attendance,” Krieger said. “But everything went great and people who were there enjoyed it.” Auburn’s Cruise Nite on Friday also felt the heat. Organizing committee chief Jack Kenny said that the turnout for vintage cars – usually kept low by the competing Hot August Nights in Reno – was even lower than expected because of torrid temperatures. “We had less than 100 cars and it was because of the heat,” Kenny said. “In 12 years with the event, I’ve never seen it that low.” But crowds were still decent, with many choosing to arrive as shadows began to creep over Lincoln Way in the late evening, he said. Karl Swanberg, National Weather Service Sacramento office forecaster, said Monday that Auburn temperatures should reach 102 degrees on Tuesday and 100 on Wednesday. The high for the day will decrease another degree Thursday to 99 and then to 98 degrees on Friday. The weekend should see a cooling trend, with temperatures of 94 degrees Saturday and 92 degrees on Sunday, he said. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was asking customers to conserve electricity on Monday in response to a Flex Alert called for Tuesday by the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s power grid. A Flex Alert is an urgent call to immediately conserve electricity and shift demand to off-peak hours to ease strain on the grid. PG&E is encouraging customers to adjust thermostats to 78 degrees or higher or turn air-conditioning off when not at home, draw drapes and turn off unnecessary lighting, and use a fan instead of air conditioning, when possible.