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Record-Tying 103 Kicks Off Long Weekend

Times Staff Writer

The Labor Day weekend got off to a sizzling start Saturday as temperatures matched the record high of 103 at Los Angeles’ Civic Center and reached up to 111 in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

Meteorologists said little relief from the heat could be expected today or during the rest of the three-day weekend that signals the conclusion of the summer vacation season.

The Civic Center high of 103 equaled a record set in 1955. Temperatures reached 100 in Santa Ana, 103 in Long Beach, 109 in Pasadena, 110 in Burbank, Northridge and Monrovia, and 111 in Woodland Hills, Ontario and San Bernardino. The hottest spot in the nation was 120 at Death Valley, the National Weather Service said.

Residents in Diamond Bar and Pomona reported heavy rains in the afternoon. WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times, said the humidity was 30% to 40%, which, combined with the high temperatures, added significantly to the discomfort.

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On the beach, it was a pleasant 75 in Santa Monica and 77 in Newport Beach.

Residents using air conditioners caused power usage to reach a record high for a weekend day, Southern California Edison reported. The record use for a weekend day was 700 megawatts more than the previous weekend high recorded July 23, an Edison spokesman said.

Dave Beusterien, a meteorologist with WeatherData, said an expected cloud cover over the Los Angeles Basin on Monday may provide a small drop in temperature, but not much.

“The cloud cover will keep temperatures down a few degrees, but it will still be just as hot,” Beusterien said. “To make matters worse, there will be an increase in humidity, so it will feel just as bad.”

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Beusterien said an upper-level storm system in the vicinity of the southern New Mexico-Arizona border would be moving westward today, prompting showers in desert and mountain areas.

Lows in 70s

High temperatures today and Sunday were expected to range from 96 to 110 degrees in the Los Angeles area, with lows ranging from 70 to 75 degrees.

The heat caused difficulties for Los Angeles County firefighters battling fires in Claremont and Los Angeles. A total of 37 firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, officials said.

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The heat apparently took its toll on 2-year-old Justin Woods of Woodland Hills, who went into convulsions and stopped breathing about 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a swap meet parking lot. Woods was in fair condition at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Woodland Hills after an off-duty police officer administered CPR.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District declared Stage 1 smog alerts Saturday in southwest Los Angeles County, the Pomona-Walnut Valley, the southwest San Bernardino Valley, northern Orange County and the east, west and south San Gabriel Valley areas.

During a Stage 1 smog alert, the air is considered unhealthful for everyone, and the AQMD advises that children and the elderly curtail outside activities.

Hundreds of thousands sought cool surroundings at beaches, movie theaters and air-conditioned shopping malls. About 300,000 people crowded beaches from Cabrillo Beach to Marina del Rey, while up to 150,000 people flocked to Santa Monica, lifeguards said.

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“Actually, it’s a pretty mellow day today, and we expected more people,” said Don Rohrer, a Los Angeles County lifeguard captain in Santa Monica. “They’re all probably waiting for Sunday and Monday to come down here.”

Not Everyone Indoors

But not everyone wanted to beat the heat. More than 75,000 people attended the Orange International Street Fair, and about 2,000 attended the Whiteman Airport Air Fair and Carnival in Pacoima.

But mostly, folks just wanted to be cool.

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“I’ve been here all day, and I’m busier than all get-out,” said Bettylou Durbin, who works at the information booth in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. “All these people are coming up to me, asking for help and buying lottery tickets. And they’re all complaining about the heat.”

Times Staff Writers Aaron Curtiss and Tracey Kaplan contributed to this story.


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