Severe Weather

While some severe weather conditions do not threaten Kern County, we are susceptible to dangerous weather conditions. Here are guidelines to protect yourself from thunderstorms, flooding, extreme heat, extreme cold/blizzards and dense fog.


Thunderstorms and Lightning

Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

  • Postpone outdoor activities and get inside a home, building, or hardtop automobile.
  • Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Use a corded telephone only for emergencies.
  • Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners.


  • If a flash flood is possible, move immediately to higher ground.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or services are cut off.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling, and a foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by chemicals or sewage or may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

Extreme Heat

Cooling centers around Kern County will be open from 1pm to 8pm (including weekends) on extremely hot days when the temperature is predicted by the National Weather Service.

Cooling centers will open when the following extreme weather conditions occur:

  • Mountains: Temperatures reaches or exceeds 95 degrees.
  • Valley: Temperature reaches or exceeds105 degrees.
  • Desert: Temperatures reaches or exceeds 108 degrees.

For Cooling Center openings, call Aging and Adult Services at 661-868-1000 or toll free at 800-510-2020, or the Parks & Recreation Department at 661-868-7000 or visit

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Slow down your pace and avoid heavy activity. If heavy activity cannot be avoided, perform this activity between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. (the coolest part of the day).
  • Use electric fans; they do not cool the air, but they help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Persons who are on fluid-restricted diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide brimmed hat and wear loose fitting, lightweight, light colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.

Dense Fog

Dense fog is an extreme hazard to those who must travel though it. If you can't postpone your trip until dense fog lifts – usually by late morning or the afternoon – follow these tips:

  • Drive with lights on LOW beam. High beams will reflect off the fog, creating a "white wall" effect.
  • Reduce your speed - and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.
  • If your car becomes disabled or you can't continue, pull well onto the shoulder and turn off lights. Move away from your vehicle and the road to avoid injury.

* The California Highway Patrol; Fog Driving Safety Tips

Extreme Cold and Winter Storms
(Blizzards in Higher Elevations)

  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Insulate pipes and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Know ahead of time what to do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Prepare your car by checking or having a mechanic perform a winter season check. Make sure your car has a winter storm emergency kit, including blankets, snacks and medications in case you are temporarily stranded.
  • Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency information.
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