Response to Unseasonably Warm Weather : Beachgoers Get a Jump on Summer

Times Staff Writer

"Sunny and unseasonably warm," the National Weather Service said.

But no one needed to tell Orange County residents that on Sunday. Just by looking out their windows, they could see cloudless blue skies and a bright, warm sun.

And like migrating mammals, thousands of people headed for the beaches. By 10 a.m., Huntington City Beach had an unusually large crowd for this time of year. Normally, March beachgoers are mostly wet-suited surfboard riders or clusters of warmly dressed pedestrians on the pier. But on Sunday, when temperatures rose to the high 60s along Orange County beaches, about 25,000 came to Huntington City Beach, said Lifeguard Sgt. John Barth. "Weather like this is not an everyday occurrence," he said.

"The water's still pretty cold--57 degrees--so we didn't have many swimmers, but the beach itself was pretty crowded."

San Clemente reported beach temperatures in the 60s Sunday, "It fluctuated from 62 to 68 degrees," varying with the coastal fog, said Marine Safety Officer Steve Lashbrook. "There was a real, real heavy crowd at the beach today. With anticipation of Easter, and with such good weather, I'd say this was a normal reaction."

Inland areas had even balmier weather than the breeze-cooled coast. The National Weather Service said temperatures climbed above 80 degrees in some inland parts of the county.

The National Weather Service predicts slightly cooler temperatures today as a cold front slowly moves down into the Southland from Northern California. The cold front has brought some showers in the northern mountain areas, but no rain is forecast for Orange County today.

High temperatures in the county today are expected to range from the low to middle 60s near the beaches to the mid-70s in inland areas. Westerly winds ranging from 20 to 30 m.p.h. also are predicted.

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