The beaches today are expected to offer the only respite for inland San Diego area residents seeking relief from the fourth consecutive day of 100-degree temperatures and smoggy air.
However, thanks to gradually increasing sea breezes, the coastal areas will be significantly cooler than Wednesday's high temperature at Lindbergh Field of 87, said Richard Stitt, a National Weather Service forecaster.
Lifeguards expect throngs to flock to beaches today. About 70,000 people visited city beaches on Wednesday, and more than double that number are predicted for the holiday, according to John Serrano, a city lifeguard.
The cool breezes, however, will have little effect on inland areas, where air quality is expected to be unhealthful along the foothills through the weekend. Temperatures will continue to hover about 100 degrees.
The second first-stage smog alert of the year was issued Wednesday for the foothill areas near Alpine. Virginia Bigler-Engler, a meteorologist for the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District, said Alpine registered 200 on the Pollution Standard Index. A rating of 100 indicates unhealthful air and a 200 indicates a first-stage alert, said Bigler-Engler.
Although the fires burning throughout the county were "a contributing factor" to the poor air quality, the primary cause was smog that traveled south from Los Angeles, Bigler-Engler said.
"We can go over our standard for clean air with our own pollutants, but it takes a transport of Los Angeles smog to create a first-stage situation," she said.
Daytime temperatures in the coastal areas today will be 82 to 89, with nighttime temperatures about 65. Friday will be slightly cooler.
Inland areas will have daytime temperatures of about 100 degrees, with nighttime readings dropping to 65. Friday's high will be near 90.
The County Water Authority was pumping near capacity, about 716 million gallons of water, on Tuesday when brush fires were ravaging parts of the county, according to Mel Spell, water operations manager. Consumption of water, however, is expected to drop today, he said.
San Diego Gas & Electric likewise reported a drop in energy consumption from Tuesday's 2,231 megawatts to 2,133 Wednesday.