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Southern California will begin to cool by weekend; still above normal

Southern California will begin to cool by weekend; still above normal
A surfer braves the waves amid strong Santa Ana winds off the Southern California coast, where temperatures topped 80 degrees at the beach Thursday. (Lenny Ignelzi / AP)

There was no place warmer in the United States last weekend than Southern California, thanks to a huge winter storm in the Northeast that suppressed temperatures in areas as far away as Florida and Texas, the National Weather Service said.

On Friday and Saturday, the warmest place in the contiguous United States was  John Wayne Airport in Orange County. On Sunday, it was in Saugus, where the temperature topped out at 86 degrees, said meteorologist Todd Hall.

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For anyone monitoring the weather over the weekend, the news shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Twitter was rife with Southern Californians taunting their East Coast friends with photos of palm trees bathed in sunlight and the sandy coastline looking like a summer day.

Oceanside Harbor broke a 38-year-old heat record on Valentine's Day when it hit 82 degrees, and UCLA broke its record set in 1991 when it reached 85 degrees. Just two days earlier it had hit 91 degrees in Santa Ana.

But alas, all good things must come to an end -- for the most part.

The unseasonably warm weather will persist into the weekend, but the heat will begin to fall more in line with the region's historical norms, said meteorologist Brett Albright.

"This was just a little event that stood out more than others," he said.

Instead of basking in heat that's 10 to 20 degrees above average, temperatures could drop to 3 to 5 degrees above average, he said.

In Los Angeles, the heat is actually supposed to climb by Wednesday until it begins to drop into the low 70s by the weekend, said meteorologist Kathy Hoxsie.

The warm weather is a mixed bag for California. Though residents don't have to worry about wind-swept tree branches knocking out power or snow caving in their roofs, the state is also not getting as much precipitation as is needed to help its historic drought.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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