Cooler Weather Likely to Follow Weekend's Heat

Times Staff Writer

Unusually hot weather for February raised temperatures into the mid- to high 80s in Orange County on Sunday. The thermometer rose to 85 in Santa Ana, tying a record high for the date set in 1926.

Cooler temperatures are predicted today and through the rest of the week, however.

Sunday's unseasonably warm temperatures even toasted some beach communities. The high in San Clemente was 82, according to WeatherData Inc., which provides weather information for The Times. In San Juan Capistrano, the temperature on Sunday soared to a summery 88.

The balmy weather prompted thousands of people to flock to Orange County beaches.

Huntington State Beach drew about 10,000 people Sunday, according to Lifeguard Richard Rozzelle. "On a normal Sunday in February we'd get about 2,000 people max," he said.

"It was pretty warm for February, and the sun felt very, very nice. I was lying out in the sun myself during the morning."

In Newport Beach, runners entering the early-morning Spirit Run 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer races at Fashion Island found themselves perspiring under the warm sun even before the races began. Normally runners can expect cool early-morning winter temperatures in Orange County--especially in February.

But according to WeatherData, Orange County had something like "July in February" over the entire weekend. "The high temperature in Santa Ana was 86 on Saturday," said Rick Dittman, a meteorologist with WeatherData.

Dittman said mild Santa Ana winds flowed in over the weekend, spawned by a high pressure area over Nevada. Those warm winds, he said, added to a weather situation that already positioned Orange County for a balmy weekend.

"There was a high pressure system in the upper levels, over Mexico, and a low pressure out in the Pacific," Dittman said. "That just helped create the fair weather over the last several days."

Dittman said the high temperatures are predicted to slide back into the 70s locally today. "I don't think we'll have any more temperatures in the 80s for quite a while," he said. "The forecast calls for unsettled weather the rest of the week, with a chance of showers by mid-week."

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