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Freezing, Then Frying: a Wild Ride in Southland

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mother Nature’s going schizo.

Temperatures rode the seesaw well up into the 90s in Southland valleys Tuesday, only a week after a chilly, rainy spell. But the newfound blaze of sunshine is expected to mellow into partly cloudy skies this weekend.

Or maybe not.

“Computer simulations get flaky this time of year,” said Vladimir Ryshko, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “One says dry and clear, and the other rain, with others somewhere in between. It’s a spring transition.”

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Temperatures soared around Southern California on Tuesday. Ontario reached 100, making it the hottest spot in the area, while Death Valley’s 102 earned it that label for the United States. The mercury hit 94 in Pasadena, and Burbank toasted at 93. At the Los Angeles Civic Center it was 90.

School administrators worried that the warmth was a hint of scorching temperatures to come. Contractors were busy Tuesday installing air conditioning at Sutter Middle School in Winnetka.

During lunch, students chattered around construction work, which temporarily tore up a walkway. But the air conditioning won’t be available until July. For now, teachers make do with large fans spaced around their rooms.

“The heat can be brutal--hot and stuffy and impossible to handle,” said Assistant Principal Marian Reimann.

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Other Los Angeles residents, battered for months by winter storms, were delighted by the change.

“I’m heading for the beach, getting ready to lay out,” said Tim Vegtel, 24, of Northridge, a CalArts student making his second trip to the sands in as many days.

Postal worker Margie Tyrrel, 50, stood in the sun outside a Reseda ice cream stand, relaxing in the aftermath of last week’s tax deadline crush. “It’s beautiful--I’m enjoying it,” she said.

Other residents wished that the temperature swings were not as dramatic, inflaming allergies and making winter clothes obsolete.

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“The sunshine’s great, but it’s so drastic,” said Heather Baldi.

Many businesses were thankful for a reprieve from the rains that kept customers at home.

High pressure is holding back the chill and rain of the past few weeks, according to WeatherData Inc., and more sunshine is expected today. A Pacific storm may arrive this weekend.


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