"I know the calendar says Sept. 2, but it feels like the first day of summer," said Eva Kline, sitting on a park bench Wednesday overlooking Newport Harbor. "It's a shame. Just when school starts, the weather turns nice."
Kline was not the only one caught off guard by the recent blast of heat and humidity after one of the milder summers in recent memory.
Wednesday's high temperatures for the most part were several degrees cooler than those recorded on the heat wave's first day. But the humidity made outdoor activity a sticky proposition.
It also made for brisk business at Penguin's Yogurt Shop in Anaheim, where store supervisor Monty Sauceda said: "This place has been crazy all day long. People are ordering doubles and then just parking themselves here in the air conditioning as long as possible to avoid going outside."
The flavors of choice in the heat? Chocolate and French vanilla, Sauceda said.
Run on Air Conditioners
Stores reported steady sales of air conditioners, fans and patio furniture Wednesday.
"There's quite a rush to buy coolers and fans," said Don Morton, an employee at a Pep Boys auto parts store in Costa Mesa. "I think everybody is getting ready for a long, hot holiday weekend."
Despite the heat and Midwestern-style humidity, area hospitals reported treating only a handful of heat-related victims. Medical experts said problems could develop for the elderly and other high-risk groups if temperatures remain in the upper 90s for several more days.
Drinking lots of liquids, particularly water, and avoiding outdoor activity during the heat of the day is the best way to avoid overheating, said Michael Burns, an emergency room physician at UCI Medical Center.
Mission Viejo Hottest
The hot spot in the county was Mission Viejo, which topped out at 100 degrees, with relative humidity of 67%.
That reading, however, was considerably short of the county's Sept. 2 record of 114 degrees recorded in 1955 in Orange.
Elsewhere in the county Wednesday, the mercury hit 95 in Santa Ana, 94 in La Habra, 93 in San Juan Capistrano, 90 in Irvine and 89 in El Toro.
Along the coast, where greater-than-average weekday summer crowds sought relief, temperatures were generally in the mid- to upper-70s.
Relief at Beaches
Cooling ocean breezes were strong enough Wednesday to reach much of interior Orange County and keep temperatures from topping the century mark for the second straight day. But a return to the more comfortable pattern of early morning low clouds and afternoon sun is not expected before the weekend, the National Weather Service said.
There is still a slight chance of thundershowers across much of the county today, as moisture from tropical storm Lidia continues to flow into Southern California, the service said. But swells from the rapidly dissipating storm off the southern Baja coast could generate breakers up to 6 feet along south-facing beaches by the weekend.
Mitch White, a lifeguard dispatcher, said about 55,000 beachgoers crowded onto the sand in Newport Beach, where the mercury hit a balmy 77. With the surf running a relatively small but steady two to three feet, White said lifeguards reported just a few rescues from the unseasonably cool, 63-degree water.
"Some kids have already started school, and others are out doing their back-to-school shopping, so the crowd was not as big as you might expect," White said, adding that if the hot weather holds through the long Labor Day weekend "it could get real busy."