Webb sweats through record-setting California heat wave

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Brandon Arteaga

The Webb football team practices in heavy helmets and shoulder pads despite temperatures exceeding one hundred degrees. The scorching heat beats down on the players causing them to feel more fatigued during drills. “We had to persevere through the heat despite how our bodies felt,” said Jordan McCray (‘24), a football player. “I saw a couple of my teammates throwing up, it was so bad.”

Students race into the shelters of their cold dorm rooms moments after their afternoon activities end. They embrace the incredibly chilling air conditioning, a stark contrast from the exhausting heat and blinding sun outside, and are about to sit comfortably with a snack, when they feel the heat rising in the room once again.  

The lights flicker. The Webbie attempts to send a text to their friends, the Wi-Fi cuts out. The power has gone out.  

California is notorious for its warm weather; however, recently, “warm” has been an understatement. Record-setting temperatures throughout California have threatened the state’s power grid and lives, and caused forest fires. California is experiencing a “heat dome,” which is a period of time, typically at the end of the summer, where the heat is trapped and causes days of high temperatures. 

Prior to the start of the year, Webb installed air conditioning in all the dorms. This had unforeseen benefits during the heatwave; students hid in the comfort of their rooms.  

“We were just seeing a trend, when I started here twenty years ago, we might have had a few hot days, but we never had these long periods,” said Janet Peddy, Director of Finance, Planning, and Operations. “It was a real design-build operation, the first quotes we got were very high, but we had a generous donor come forward. We had to find different solutions for different dorms so that they were as energy efficient as possible.” 

Before the era of air conditioning, dorm heads and faculty had to find other methods to keep students away from the heat.  

“We used to work to find students cool places to sleep on campus,” said Sarah Lantz, Dean of VWS. “There would be times when we had large sleepovers in Jackson library, Fawcett library, and any other big, air-conditioned spaces.” 

The fall sports teams were heavily affected, as the heat posed a real danger to Webb’s athletes. Some athletes even almost fainted after practice.  

“As I walked back to my dorm room, my vision became so bright and faint that I couldn’t see at all, and my body felt like jelly,” said Ryan Ho (‘25), a cross country athlete. 

According to Mayo Clinic, excessive heat can cause low blood pressure, muscle cramps, and confusion. Sprinklers were deployed and athletes were reminded to drink extra water to remedy these problems. In addition, games and events were shifted to earlier or later in the day, and sometimes canceled entirely.  

With temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, students across campus were exhausted from the scorching weather. Yet this was not the worst to come.    

On Monday, September 5th, all buildings lost power from 4 p.m. until around 6:30 p.m. The lack of air conditioning was felt by the whole community, who were all trying to escape the heat, not sit in it for longer. Unfortunately for boarders, they were unable to flee the power outage.  

“It was very hot, the air conditioning that we had in our dorm was the thing that kept the boarding students cool.” said Andy Pan (‘25), Alamo resident. “Since Alamo is made out of bricks, the heat gets trapped easily, and we barely have any windows, so I was sweating like crazy.” 

Southern California Edison was contacted quickly and helped to resolve the campus-wide power outage. 

“It affected us in many ways, we lost all of our air conditioning to all of our dorms, we lost control of most of our gates and luckily, we’ve already installed our backup generator for our servers, so if you were off campus, we could still get texts and emails and stuff, but it was very disruptive.” said Dan Fraley, Facilities Manager. 

The dining hall was miraculously able to serve food on time, although students ate in the dark. Day students were still asked to leave campus, and the boarders were gifted two hours of open pool, the perfect way to cool down.  

From the low hundreds that have fluctuated to low eighties, the heatwave seems to be coming to an end. On Sunday, September 11th, right as the first Sunday chapel concluded, thunder and lightning struck. Students ran through the cold rain and watched as the zaps of lightning left stunning streaks across the sky. The coming weeks will have averages in the eighties and low nineties, with some spikes back into those high nineties. 

It is safe to say that Webb is relieved to return to 90-degree weather days, and that we have all learned a thing or two about how to survive a hot summer’s day. The Webb Canyon Chronicle recommends eating fruit-flavored popsicles, taking advantage of open pool, and drinking ice-cold water in the shade.  

Enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and get ready for chilly mornings in October!