Labor Day was both safer and cooler than expected in Southern California.
Temperatures began to dip in response to an invasion of moist marine air, the California Highway Patrol said fewer people died in traffic accidents, and beach crowds--while enormous by comparison with an average Monday--were almost moderate by holiday standards.
“It’s insane, it’s cuckoo, it’s Valium time,” said Los Angeles County beaches dispatcher Tom Overmire in a brief early-morning break. “We have 475,000 oily bodies anointing themselves in the sun--and 275,000 of them tried to drink their way through six-packs for breakfast.”
Nonetheless, by late afternoon lifeguards estimated that only a million or so people had spent a part of the day at beaches from Zuma to Newport, despite surf that was running a pleasant 3 to 4 feet.
Rescues were fewer than expected--only about 100 by mid-afternoon--and paramedics said cases of heat stroke and dangerous sunburn were fewer than expected.
By 6 a.m. Monday, the Highway Patrol had counted only 34 holiday traffic fatalities in California--down considerably from the 51 recorded during the first two days of the Labor Day weekend last year--of which eight were in the Los Angeles area, down three from the similar period last year.
Fewer Drunks Cited
Drunk driving also seemed to be on the decline: Highway Patrol spokesman Monty Kiefer said his agency had arrested 489 people for driving while intoxicated in the Los Angeles area--down from the 550 arrested during the first two-thirds of the long weekend last year--and there were 2,097 such arrests statewide, also a decline from 2,226 in 1984.
High temperature at Los Angeles Civic Center Monday was 83 degrees, with relative humidity ranging from 55% to 87%, and the forecast called for two or three degrees of cooling today, with the trend expected to continue for the rest of the week.