I’m a big fan of hot weather.  I know there are others out there just like me. Last week proved that too much of a good thing is not all that great.

At least we don’t live in Phoenix or Las Vegas or anywhere in a desert.

Death Valley recorded an all-time high at 129 degrees, the highest June temperature ever recorded in the United States. In Phoenix  the mercury topped out at 119 degrees on the 29th of June.  That mark was preceded by 30 days of 100 degrees or more.  In fact, the temperature is not forecast to drop below 100 until July 18 when it will drop to a balmy 95.

It’s a dry heat though…

Here in the good ‘ol Redwood Empire, hot weather started on June 27, with a 91 degree mark with five of the next seven days touching 92 or better.  So much for the Mediterranean climate.  The average this time of year is 82.  As a matter of historical perspective, our averages go up another three degrees by October.

What’s normal?  1.5 inches of rain in June? 63 degree dew points?  Humidity that feels like a southern night?  I expected to see Lampyridae.  You know, lightning bugs.  Or beetles.  Whatever.

How many of you noticed the temperature rise of five degrees on Independence Day at seven in the evening before the Pacific AC kicked in?

Two rounds of lightning. Each more intense than the other. What’s up with that?  What happened to the June gloom?   Tomatoes ripening, zucchini as big as baseball bats,  poison oak turning bright red… will the madness never end?

Speaking of lightning…

Lightning strikes above the Geysers area of northern Sonoma County, early July 4, 2013 near Geyserville Ca., USA. Numerous wildland fires across Mendocino, and Lake Counties were caused by the unusual storm fed in part by subtropical moisture. After a week of temperatures near the century mark, Northern California looks to cool down by the weekend. ( Kent Porter, Santa Rosa Press Democrat) 2013

I’ve written many times about the patience of my wife and son when it comes to my weather obsession.  What started out as a nice evening of watching fireworks in Windsor with said family, turned out to be an all-nighter with (two) metal tripods and an attempt to freeze frame every down strike of lightning.

I started out shooting near Shiloh Regional Park; the images were okay.  The first wave moved north and west so I wrapped it up and went home.  The second wave started an hour later, for which I headed to the same place (had to wake up spouse and let her know I was going out.  Again.)  After 45 minutes or so I headed to the Geysers, well, because it looked a little more intense up there.

Lightning strikes above the Geysers area of northern Sonoma County, early July 4, 2013 near Geyserville Ca., USA. Numerous wildland fires across Mendocino, and Lake Counties were caused by the unusual storm fed in part by subtropical moisture. After a week of temperatures near the century mark, Northern California looks to cool down by the weekend. ( Kent Porter, Santa Rosa Press Democrat) 2013

Making my way up the hill, wind buffeted the car.  I had reached an inversion layer.  A thermal belt.  On the valley floor it was mild 65 degrees, but at the Hawkeye Ranch at 1500 feet, the air temperature was near 90 degrees with winds straight out of the northeast at around 25 to 35 mph.  Fire weather.

Lightning strikes above the Geysers area of northern Sonoma County, early July 4, 2013 near Geyserville. Numerous wildland fires across Mendocino, and Lake Counties were caused by the unusual storm fed in part by subtropical moisture. After a week of temperatures near the century mark, Northern California looks to cool down by the weekend. ( Kent Porter, Santa Rosa Press Democrat) 2013

The wind was so strong, it blew over a metal sandbagged tripod, destroying a lens. (oddly, the camera survived).  The above photo is the last frame made with the lens.  I call it jellyfish lightning.

Lightning dances above the Town of Windsor, Thursday July 4, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

The entire evening, I never heard one rumble of thunder. My aunt Rena, who lived in the Oklahoma Panhandle, called it heat lightning.  Not real scientific to be sure,  but apt.  After covering lightning almost every spring during my first job in west Texas, I became proficient at it.  I was then given a moratorium by my boss that I could shoot as much lightning that floated my boat, but only five pictures a season would be published.  I’m not sure if he was serious or not.  Anyway, I’ve fallen out of practice a little because we have so much nice weather here.

A thunderstorm spits out lightning as seen from Geysers Road above Geyserville, Thursday July 4, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Whatever the reason, the lightning gods were shining down on Red, White and Boom day. In reality, the lightning was striking somewhere near Hopland and north.  The storm skirted Sonoma County as if on a pre-ordained path.

Rustin Prior-Hodenfield, 5, right and his twin Cooper of Santa Rosa find relief from the ongoing heatwave by a dip in the Ridgway Swim Center in Santa Rosa, Tuesday July 2, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

The problem with a heat wave?  Everyone stays inside, or has too much fun at the pool.  Or a lake.  Spring Lake, below.

Jeff Bistritan of Sonoma flips his Toronto, Canada niece Genaya Bailey, 9, at the Spring Lake swimming lagoon in Santa Rosa as a long term heat wave has temperatures pushing the century mark, Friday June 28, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

And then, the first Toy Con arrived smack dab in the middle of the heat wave.  I followed this martian, left, in to the restroom. I thought there may be a different type of photo here.  Ahem.

Dressed as a martian from Outer Limits, Donald Bishop adjust his costume at ToyCon at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Saturday June 29, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Dressed as a martian from Outer Limits, Donald Bishop adjust his costume at ToyCon at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Saturday June 29, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013"

I swear on a stack of bibles that Vic Pozzi of Windsor called this Brahman (below) “Norma”.  Every Fourth of July, on or near, a sheep or a “Norma” will be decorated with biodegradable paint.

Brahma "Norma" shows her true colors on the Pozzi Ranch in Windsor, Thursday June 27, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Healdsburg resident Robert Lownes and his wife Shirley-whjo passed a away a few years ago- painted the family barn after 9-11 as a show of patriotism. Lownes, who has lived on the land since he was two years-old spent from 1960-64 in the Navy. Lownes "Didn't have a flag pole, and decided that I had to do something more permanent." His two dogs are Taffy, left and Honey, Wednesday June 26, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Driving the back roads of Sonoma County, above, little photographic treasures exist where you least expect.  This photo has been in the making for a little over three years.  The Towns section of the Press Democrat has afforded photogs to think outside the box and tell stories that might never make the the paper, little vignettes of life.

In santa Rosa under a watchful gaze, a dog stands sentry over a patriotic display in the Junior College district, Friday June 28, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Sorry cat lovers, but there is something about dogs that makes me chuckle..  Especially those in windows.

Cal Fire and Healdsburg firefighters build a progressive hose lay to flank a brush fire at the old county landfill in Healdsburg, Tuesday June 18, 2013 just off Alexander Valley Road as an air tanker makes a retardant drop. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

It’s a “ten acre year” one fire chief told me.  Almost every fire is ten acres before you know it, causing headaches.

-Kent Porter