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County Administrator's Office

For Immediate Release

Supervisors approve extreme weather response plan, commit to developing partnerships with local groups

SANTA ROSA, CA | June 15, 2023

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The Board of Supervisors this week unanimously approved a plan for when the county will work with local groups such as faith-based organizations and nonprofits to open heating centers in unincorporated areas during freeze warnings and cooling stations during high-heat events.

The plan, otherwise known as the Extreme Temperature Response Annex, came at the recommendation of the Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management and will be added to the County’s Emergency Operations Plan.

“The extreme temperature plan brought forward today is a critical and much anticipated action plan to support our most vulnerable community members during the coldest and hottest days” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

The criteria for what will trigger a freeze warning by the county include one or more of the following conditions:

  • A forecast of overnight temperatures dropping below 28 degrees for two consecutive days; or
  • A forecast of overnight temperatures dropping below 32 degrees for three consecutive days or more; or
  • A forecast of temperatures dropping below an average nighttime low of 37 degrees for two consecutive days with accompanying hazardous conditions; and/or
  • The National Weather Service issuing a cold-related warning including freeze, cold or frost warnings.

The criteria for a heat warning by the county includes meeting the following conditions:

  • The National Weather Service issuing a Heat Risk Level 3 warning or greater for at least three consecutive days; AND
  • The National Weather Service issuing an Excessive Heat Warning; and/or
  • A forecast of high daytime temperatures accompanied with overnight low temperature of at least 75 degrees or higher; and/or
  • The California Independent System Operator issuing an Energy Emergency Alert 2 or Alert 3 electrical emergency.

Under the plan approved by supervisors on Monday, when the county issues a freeze or high-heat warning, the county will activate pre-established agreements with local groups such as non-profits, libraries, and faith-based organizations to operate warming centers or cooling stations in unincorporated areas. The county will also coordinate with cities in notifying the public of warming and cooling centers available in incorporated areas.

“As these extreme weather events become more frequent, the sustainability of support systems will rely on the collaborative work we do with partners, faith groups, nonprofits and local jurisdictions,” said Jeff DuVall, interim director of the county Department of Emergency Management. “No one-group or entity can take on climate change response alone.”

County staff are now in the process of coordinating and contracting with local groups to ensure such centers can be opened quickly when needed. Entities with facilities in unincorporated areas that are interested in partnering with the county to operate warming/cooling centers during extreme weather events should contact the Department of Emergency Management at (707) 565-1152. Training and support as well as financial assistance will be available.

As the impacts of climate change grow, the need to respond to extreme temperature events also increases. These events can pose a public health risk, especially for temperature-sensitive groups such as children, the elderly, the unhoused and people with respiratory conditions. The Extreme Temperature Response plan was developed using historical data and best practices with the intention of providing support to the whole community.

Contact Information:
Carly Cabrera
Supervising County Communications Specialist, County of Sonoma
(707) 565-3040