Saturday’s reopening of Bolsa Chica State Beach couldn’t have been timed better.
Record-setting early summer heat scorched inland areas and sent thousands of people to the seashore for relief. Those who chose Bolsa Chica found the entire 2.5-mile stretch of state beach open for the first time in 23 days after a leaky sewer pipe forced its closure.
“People seemed real happy to see us reopened,” said Al Fimlaid, a Bolsa Chica lifeguard supervisor. “I’d say we had about 20,000 people here.”
Temperatures at most of the county’s beaches were in the mid-70s, cool compared to the intense heat just a few miles inland, including a record high of 98 degrees in Santa Ana, said Curtis Brack, a meteorologist for WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times.
That broke the June 29 record of 97 degrees set in 1976, Brack said.
Other highs across the county were a scorching 99 degrees in Anaheim, 93 degrees in Lake Forest, 80 degrees in Dana Point, 78 degrees in San Clemente and 73 degrees in Newport Beach.
Brack predicted that the heat will linger today and that temperatures might go as high as 100 degrees inland before a cooling trend begins Monday.
The heat is coming from a strong ridge of high pressure pushing inland from the eastern Pacific and spreading across Southern California, Brack said. High pressure causes winds to move downward through the atmosphere, compressing and heating the air, he said.
“When you get those two effects, plus a light wind from the desert, that helps boost the temperatures,” Brack said.
About 50,000 people visited the city beach areas of Huntington Beach, where the temperature was a pleasant 72 degrees, said Lt. Steve Davidson, beach operations supervisor.
“This is the best weather we have had all week,” Davidson said, noting that cool breezes at midweek brought temperatures that are more typical of fall weather.
The surf at Huntington Beach was running at 2 to 4 feet, Davidson said, and lifeguards were “pretty busy rescue-wise.”
Farther south in San Clemente, about 12,000 sunbathers visited the city beaches, where they found “a beautiful day--clear, warm and with no wind,” said Steve Lashbrook, a marine safety officer.
Lashbrook said the temperature was 78 degrees at 3 p.m., but unseasonably cold water churned up by overnight winds kept many people out of the surf.
“Our water was 60 degrees this morning, down from 73.5 degrees on Wednesday,” Lashbrook said. “We have only made a couple of rescues. The water is cold enough that we don’t have many people in the water.”
The high temperatures are expected to fall through the week as onshore breezes return, Brack said.
For the Fourth of July, forecasters expect patchy low clouds and perhaps fog along the coast, with highs in the low 80s and overnight lows to the mid-50s, Brack said.