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Thanksgiving heat wave brings record-setting temperatures across L.A.

Thanksgiving heat wave brings record-setting temperatures across L.A.
Steve Robinson, who came with his family from Bakersfield to camp at Dockweiler RV Park, prepares breakfast. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Al Sabo lingered in the shade, clutching a bag of pomegranates he’d just bought from the Pershing Square Farmers Market.

It was before noon and already 90 degrees. The sun bore down from a cloudless blue sky, and there was nary a breeze in downtown Los Angeles, where tank tops and sandals reigned.

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“It’s too hot,” Sabo, 73, said. “It doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving.”

Temperatures soared into the 90s across a large swath of Southern California in an autumn heat wave that peaked Wednesday. It seems those turkeys won’t be the only things roasting on Thanksgiving Day.

Many parts of the region hit new records for the day including downtown L.A. at 92 degrees, LAX at 92, Long Beach at 96, UCLA at 95, Woodland Hills at 93 and Oxnard at 97.

Mother Nature will be serving one of the hottest Thanksgivings on record in Southern California, with potentially record-breaking temperatures 25 degrees above normal, said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The hot and dry conditions stem from an upper-level ridge of high pressure hovering over the area, which is causing desert air from the northeast to flow toward the Southern California coast, Sirard said.

Luckily for firefighters, who will be on high alert with the soaring temperatures, strong winds that typically trigger red flag warnings are not expected, he said.

Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be the hottest days of the week. Forecasters predicted temperatures in the high 80s and mid-90s throughout the Los Angeles area. The average temperature this time of the year is about 71 degrees, Sirard said.

As for Turkey Day itself, the west San Fernando Valley will probably be the hottest area in the L.A. region, Sirard said.

A high of 93 is forecast for Woodland Hills on Thursday, one degree above the record set in 1995, according to the weather service. That’s higher than Palm Springs’ predicted high of 92 degrees.

Burbank could reach 91 degrees, beating the previous record of 86 in 1950. Long Beach is expected to top out at 89 degrees; the record high was 85 in 1990.

Thursday’s high at Santa Barbara Airport is forecast to be a relatively chilly 83 degrees.

There will be little relief overnight. The valleys and coastal slopes will see nighttime temperatures in the 60s to near 80 degrees.

Heat records also are set to be eclipsed Thursday in San Diego and Riverside counties.

El Cajon is forecast to hit 94 degrees, smashing a previous high of 86 set in 1995. Chula Vista could top out at 90 degrees, beating a record of 87 in 1924. Riverside will peak at 92; the current record is 91 degrees from 1995.

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The high-pressure ridge is predicted to weaken over the weekend, and near-normal temperatures should return by Monday, Sirard said.

“If you’re going to be out and about during midday hours, wear sunscreen,” he said. “There will be lots of sunshine. Stay hydrated. It’s going to be very dry.”

Southern California, he added, is far enough south in latitude that people still can get sunburned this late in the year.

In Pershing Square, Sabo said he’d much prefer wearing short sleeves on Thanksgiving to being cold. Sabo moved to California about 36 years ago from Pittsburgh because he got sick of the cold. There, forecasters have predicted a high of 41 degrees on Thursday.

“You can’t beat the weather here,” Sabo said.

Nearby, Bryan Green was equally upbeat while selling hummus and cheese. Green has spent his whole life in Los Angeles and is never surprised by a late-year heat wave.

“It’s the California way,” he said. “In L.A., we have hot days, cold days, windy days. You just get used to it. It would be good to be at the beach right now.”

Ramon Palacio of Lincoln Heights and his 6-year-old granddaughter, Alean, stared longingly at Pershing Square’s Holiday Ice Rink, which hadn’t yet opened for the day.

“It’s hot,” said Alean, wearing jean shorts and a Dodgers hat over her ponytail. “It’s like a summer break.”

The two were out for a holiday adventure. They rode the bus to the square and were going to visit the Central Library before a planned Thanksgiving Day full of honey-baked ham and Alean’s favorite, mashed potatoes. On Wednesday, Palacio kept reminding his granddaughter to drink water.

“We’re enjoying our summer day in the middle of fall,” he said.

Palacio, 63, is a Los Angeles native. He remembers plenty of warm autumns, but nothing like this.

“It’s quite unusual,” he said. “I think the weather’s changing. I think man’s got a lot to do with it.”

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