Comparing 2006 and 2020 California Heat Waves

How does the current heatwave compare to the July 2006 event? A quick analysis shows them to be quite similar. Both show the West being dominated by large 500 millibar highs centered over the Great Basin. For the dates chosen, in the approximate middle of the hottest 7-day periods, the current high is only slightly stronger. 

There are many metrics that can be used to compare, but here I have looked at the warmest 7-day period, based on daily maximum and forecast temperatures for July 2006 and August 2020. In most of the nine stations examined, the values are comparable. The largest outliers were in Redding and Livermore which were 5 degrees hotter in 2006, and Fresno which was 4 degrees hotter. 

There are many caveats to be applied to such a simple analysis, including the influence of nighttime minimums, the humidity given the recent influx of subtropical air, changes in population, etc.

Jan Null, CCM
Certified Consulting Meteorologist
Golden Gate Weather Services
Phone: (650) 712-1876
Twitter: @ggweather