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Bakersfield residents seek to escape the heat

When the mercury soars into the triple digits and you have nothing but a swamp cooler at home, there's very little to do but escape to somewhere cooler.

That's what Bakersfield resident Kimberly De La Huerta did. Once school let out Tuesday, she brought her kids to the splash park at Planz Park where they squealed as they shot water canons. She and her friends brought pizza, a cooler and set up under a shady sycamore tree where they could catch a light breeze.

"I'm excited that they let the water parks be open," she said. 

De La Huerta had been worried that the city's Recreation & Parks Department wouldn't allow the splash parks to open because of COVID-19. She was appreciative she and her four children had a place to cool down. 

"That's what you do on hot days in Bakersfield," she said.

Kern County is experiencing its first big triple-digit heat wave of the season, which kicked off on Memorial Day. If it feels a little early to be quite this hot, you're right. The normal high on June 1 in Bakersfield is 88 degrees, according to National Weather Service data. 

Cindy Bean, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford, said we'll be approaching that typical level of June heat next week, with temperatures expected to be around 90 degrees and the upper 80s, but it will be a "very gradual cooling trend."

But on Wednesday, the high heat will continue. An excessive heat watch is in effect for the San Joaquin Valley and foothills from Kern County all the way to Fresno County from noon until 8 p.m.

Kern County officially opened its cooling centers for the year on Tuesday. Most of the cooling centers in the valley, including all the locations in Bakersfield, were open in response to the high heat. Valley cooling centers open when the forecast is 105 degrees or above, so few are expected to open Wednesday.

Bean said the cooling trend that brings us back to the high 80s next week isn't expected to start until Friday, but she clarified that "cooling" is a relative phrase.

"When I stay cooling, I mean a high of 100 in Bakersfield," she said. "I use that term lightly."

Though the splash parks are especially appreciated on the hottest days of the year, parents with young kids will probably be back even when temperatures dip. Mercedes Brown said once she heard the splash parks were open this weekend, she knew she had to come, because her young daughter loves the water toys.

"I came here just to let the baby get wet," she said.