Stifling classrooms in the North Bay as first day of school coincides with heat wave

The first day of school for thousands of Sonoma County students was a scorcher. 

Santa Rosa hit 101 degrees Wednesday afternoon, making stuffy classrooms and sports practices a challenge. 

"I wanted to cry a lot and just go home all day," said Sierra Gage, a senior at Santa Rosa High School. 
Gage described noisy fans being brought in to supplement air conditioning in some of the warmer rooms. "I was trying to look cute all day but that didn't work because I was sweating all my make-up off."  

After school, Gage and other members of the cheer squad went through their routines, some girls opting for a muggy gymnasium, others practicing outdoors. 

Everyone took frequent water breaks. 

It's got to go on, we've got our first game in a week," SRHS Cheer Coach Sammie Iannarelli told KTVU. "We've got to make sure the girls are ready so they can go out on the field and perform their best."   

For construction crews rebuilding entire neighborhoods after fire, high temperatures can be relative. 

"We've been in Las Vegas the last four, five years, and we get 120 degrees there during the day," framing contractor Jim Barlow told KTVU.  "Here we get the offshore breeze, the days are beautiful and we couldn't be happier."

Barlow and his crew were framing a porch on a two-story rebuild in Coffey Park, one of a dozen homes they have constructed over the past 18 months. 
The workers wore broad-brimmed hats and long-sleeves to protect them from the sun, and guzzled water and Gatorade from an ice-packed cooler. 

Quitting early wasn't a consideration. 

"Oh yeah, we want to get houses done while the weather is good," said Barlow. "Last year, the rainy season really shut us down and it's been fun to just work straight through."  

As evening came, temperatures dipped only slightly for the weekly Wednesday Night Market on Courthouse Square in downtown Santa Rosa. 

The crowd enjoyed live music, but from a distance, to avoid the direct sun. 

"Normally everyone is up there dancing but right now, everyone's tucked back in the shade, you have to , it's pretty hot," observed Ed Estrada, who was sipping a cold beer. 

Heat appeared to keep crowds lighter than usual at the event, which is a summer tradition. 

One beer vendor, with overhead cooling mist, seemed to attract more customers. 

"I am the only guy with misters and the booths near me love it because the breeze blows it their way," said Matt Peck of Heretic Brewery in Fairfield. "I think I've started something!"  

Steps away, the city of Santa Rosa had its water-vending truck in position, with spigots for people to dispense into cups or their own containers. 

"Everyone is very thankful we are here," smiled Alex Bauman, overseeing the water truck. 

Was he recommending water over beer? 

"On a day like this, yes," said Baulman, "although I'm sure there are people here who would disagree with me!"