Southern California's heat wave expected to break records Friday

A heat wave settling over Southern California this week could break records from the coast to the mountains while the potential for thunderstorms may increase the risk of dry lightning sparking a fast-growing wildfire, the National Weather Service said Wednesday.

The heat wave is expected to peak between Friday and Saturday, when it could approach 120 degrees in the Coachella Valley and 112 in Woodland Hills, forecasters said. Burbank, its neighboring cities and communities on either side of the San Bernardino Mountains can also expect to bake in triple-digit heat from Thursday through the weekend, said Stuart Seto, a National Weather Service specialist.

“This is really dangerous heat. People need to be taking extreme precautions,” Seto said.

Seto added that the National Weather Service’s temperature measurements are taken in the shade, meaning that it will be even hotter in direct sunlight.

The scorching weather is part of a system commonly referred to as the “Four Corners high,” a high-pressure system that settles over the desert Southwest near the Four Corners and spreads smothering heat from California to Nevada and as far east as central Texas. The Four Corners is the area where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado meet.

The heat wave will broil communities from San Luis Obispo County to the Santa Monica Mountains and reach inland, where thunderstorms over the San Bernardino Mountains could bring dry lightning strikes and fire.

“Sundowner” winds unique to the Coast Range could push any small blaze deep into unpassable, rugged terrain around San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, Seto said.

Monsoonal moisture moving up from Mexico will add humidity to the mix, making the conditions even more miserable and preventing the region from significantly cooling overnight, Seto said.

Though parts of Los Angeles were under a heat advisory Wednesday, the mercury will really begin to rise closer to the weekend, Seto said.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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