With record-breaking temperatures across the region, Bay Area residents sought relief wherever they could Wednesday, including community swimming pools and at beaches as thermometers inched past readings of 100 degrees.
At the Heather Farms Swim Center in Walnut Creek, all lanes were filled with swimmers despite it being a weekday and at least a month to go before the start of summer break.
Beth Jensen, 36, said beating the heat was a matter of being prepared.
"You kind of have to be hard-core when coming out," said the Martinez resident. "You need your water, you need your sunscreen. You gotta be ready."
Nearby, Darren Hammond, of Alamo, was lying out in his Speedo, soaking up the rays, seemingly oblivious to the discomfort the heat was causing some.
"I know heat waves aren't good for California with its lack of water, but I love it," he said, noting that the hot weather would only exacerbate the state's ongoing drought. "I love to swim."
Many long-standing record temperatures were either tied or exceeded Wednesday, with Santa Cruz and Oakland beating their old records by the largest measures. Santa Cruz hit 100 degrees, a leap up from a 1972 record of 92 degrees. Oakland hit 93 degrees, which beat a previous 89-degree record set in 2006.
Records fell by 1 degree in San Francisco, where a high of 88 beat a mark set in 1922; at Moffett Field, which topped the 2008 record of 90 degrees; and at San Francisco International Airport, where the previous high mark of 87 was set in 2006.
San Jose tied a record more than 100 years old, reaching the high of 94 degrees last hit in 1905. Livermore met the 1972 mark of 98 degrees.
Only Gilroy did not reach or beat its heat record -- the city fell 1 degree short of matching the whopping 103 degrees hit in 1976. In response to the heat, Oakland officials offered free admission for seniors at city-owned pools Wednesday.
One of the swimmers enjoying a few laps in the pool at the Dimond Recreation Center in Oakland was 63-year-old David De Hart.
"You can beat the heat when it's a free swim," he said.
The heat was not going to stop John Godinez, a San Jose resident, from getting in a round of golf Wednesday afternoon. As he tossed his flip-flops into the front seat of his car, Godinez said Wednesday's weather was actually pleasant.
"I have my water, and the breeze, it made it nice," Godinez said. "I didn't think it was as hot as they said it was going to be."
San Francisco resident Mike Wong, who was in town to meet with a business client, did not agree.
He had not been out of his air-conditioned car two minutes when beads of sweat were already forming on his forehead.
"It's so hot," he said with a sigh. "I said I would meet out here, but oh, it's so hot."
The San Jose Earthquakes soccer team moved its practice time from the usual 10:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday because of the heat.
The high temperatures weren't making the air very pleasant, either. For the third day in a row, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a summer Spare the Air alert on Wednesday. People sensitive to unhealthy air, such as those with asthma and other breathing difficulties, were advised to limit their time outdoors, particularly in the afternoon.
The National Weather Service issued a beach hazard advisory that will be in effect through Thursday evening, alerting beachgoers of an enhanced risk of rip currents due to a southerly swell dominating the waters.
Temperatures were expected to start cooling off Thursday when a tropical pressure system breaks through the high-ridge bubble that forced temperatures higher, forecaster Diane Henderson said. High temperatures will cool down by 5-10 degrees in most of the Bay Area on Thursday and Friday and are expected to be in the 70s when the weekend arrives.
Staff photographer Jane Tyska contributed to this report.
As temperatures soar, many Bay Area communities are opening facilities to help those who are particularly sensitive to the heat stay cool.
Contra Costa County
San Mateo County
Santa Clara County
Santa Clara County