Heat wave could push temperature close to 120 degrees Sunday in San Diego County deserts

People drive off-road on March 12, 2022, in Ocotillo Wells.
(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

National Weather Service advises motorists to carry plenty of water and to make sure their A/C is working if they’re heading for the deserts


The heat wave that began to grip San Diego County this week could intensify enough to push temperatures close to 120 degrees on Sunday in the local deserts, including Ocotillo Wells and Borrego Springs, according to the National Weather Service.

“It got up to 119 at Ocotillo Wells last July, so we do get these kind of readings this time of year,” said Phil Gonsalves, a weather service forecaster.

The weather service also said the temperature could reach 102 degrees along Interstate 8, along the border of San Diego and Imperial counties. Motorists were advised to make sure their vehicle’s air conditioning system is in good shape before traveling in that area.

“Several high-temperature records are in jeopardy this weekend, especially across the lower deserts on Sunday, when highs may eclipse 120 degrees,” the weather service said in an advisory.

San Diego Gas & Electric reported a pair of power outages Wednesday afternoon but had not determined if they were related to hot weather.

Some 589 customers in the Santee and Carlton Hills area lost power at 1:59 p.m., with the utility expecting service to be restored at 5 p.m. In the Spring Valley area, 151 customers at 12:48 p.m. lost power, with service expected to come back by 4 p.m.

Fortunately, the hot weather has not been accompanied by high winds, which can raise the risk of wildfire. SDG&E’s meteorology center that monitors 222 weather stations that measure wind speed, temperatures and humidity every 10 minutes showed gusts in the normal range for locations in the backcountry Wednesday afternoon.

Forecast highs during this period:
Inland Empire: 102-112
Inland Orange County/San Diego valleys: 90-100
Mountains below 5,000 ft.: 99-108
High desert: 109-117
Lower deserts: 115-123

The temperatures will rise to the mid-to-upper 70s Wednesday through Sunday at the coast, and into the 80s and 90s across inland valleys, with some spots hitting 100 or more, forecasters said.

Staff writer Rob Nikolewski contributed to this story.