The hottest Oct. 9 on record sent Los Angeles residents to the beaches in double the usual October numbers, while those who stayed home tried to cool down in front of air conditioners running overtime.
Hot, bone-dry Santa Ana winds under cloudless skies sent the temperature to 102 degrees at the Los Angeles Civic Center by 2 p.m., beating the previous record of 98, which was set in 1976. The normal high for the date is 80 degrees.
Weather forecasters say the unseasonal heat will continue today.
“You guys are sizzling,” said meteorologist Janice Roth of WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times.
But as hot as it was, Sunday’s peak was still several degrees cooler than last Sept. 4, when the scorching 110-degree reading equaled the hottest day ever in Los Angeles. The previous high this October was 89, which was reached Saturday.
Relative humidity ranged from 51% to 16%.
Other cities in the Southland had highs past the century mark. They included El Toro, Ontario, Pasadena, San Bernardino and Montebello at 100, Monrovia, Long Beach and Santa Ana at 102, Palm Springs at 104 and Pt. Mugu at 105.
The hot, dry weather, which meteorologists termed a “mild Santa Ana condition,” stems from the influence of a high-pressure system sitting over northwest Washington that is causing a vast, clockwise rotation of winds over the western United States, according to Roth.
The slowly wheeling weather system causes hot dry winds to blow from Nevada into Southern California. In addition to the desert heat that the northeasterly winds bring, they have been preventing the formation of low clouds, which usually shield the area from direct sunlight for part of the day.
And the winds have also been heating up through compression as they flow over the San Gabriel Mountains and drop in altitude to sea level.
“That is why you have warmed up so significantly today,” Roth said.
She added that the unseasonally hot temperatures--in the 90s--should continue through today. But as the high-pressure system moves east, the winds from Nevada should diminish and “on Tuesday, we expect it to return to more seasonal temperatures,” she said.
In addition to Los Angeles, the National Weather Service reported that other hot spots included Pt. Mugu, with 104 degrees, and Long Beach, with 100.
Even at the beaches, where the temperature was about 20 degrees cooler than inland, Nick Steers, senior Los Angeles County ocean lifeguard, said “It’s quite warm. We’ve noticed that.
“We have had to hire extra lifeguards and open up towers that are normally closed in October.”
Steers estimated the size of crowds on beaches between Marina del Rey and Topanga Canyon at 120,000, “and they are still coming down, about twice as many more” than usual.
The total at county beaches was an estimated 220,000 to 225,000.
Uncounted thousands, meanwhile, were staying inside, turning on the air conditioner--and sending up electric power usage.