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Summertime--and the Livin’s Uneasy

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Huddled under a giant beach umbrella in Huntington Beach, out-of-state visitor Barry Jensen, his wife, Dana, and their three kids sweated happily.

“It’s hot, but there’s a breeze going. We’re vacationing from San Antonio, so this is nothing compared to that,” Jensen said as he helped his daughter build a sandcastle. After all, as hot as it got Monday, Orange County seemed to escape the worst of the 100-degree temperatures that blanketed much of the San Fernando Valley for the second straight day, and have overwhelmed Texas for weeks.

“We’ve got a high-pressure system that is burning up the Valley, but the coast gets a little break with the cooler marine air,” said meteorologist Jeff House, with WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times.

The hot spell is expected to continue today, retreat Wednesday, but return by the end of the week.

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For the most part, the heat was not record-breaking, but it was enough to send plenty of people to the beaches, increase power consumption and bake away any lingering memories of El Nino.

Inland areas got a little steamy with temperatures in the low 90s and a heat advisory in the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills. Early morning fog blanketed local beaches but by midday, temperatures reached the low 80s, bringing droves to the shore to cool off.

“That’s one of the first things I noticed today is that it’s a little more crowded than normal,” Huntington Beach lifeguard Jeff Flanagan said.

Highs in the Los Angeles area Monday included 108 in Chatsworth, 105 in Monrovia, 104 in Woodland Hills and a mere 94 at the Civic Center, eight degrees below the downtown record for the date set in 1972.

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In the deserts, it was a lot hotter with top readings of 123 in Thermal, 117 in Palm Springs and 110 in the Yucca Valley. It was 108 in Lancaster, topping the old record there of 107, set in 1980.

By comparison, Orange County’s highest reading was 92 in Irvine. Fullerton and Anaheim hovered at 90 while Newport Beach enjoyed a balmy 81.

Monday was one of the top days ever for electrical power consumption in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Classes at two Orange County colleges were canceled Monday after utilities experts asked campus officials to conserve energy.

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“It was much warmer than usual,” said Marc Posner, a spokesman for Golden West College in Huntington Beach, where about 2,000 students were affected.

At Chapman University in Orange, about 400 employees were sent home at 3:30 p.m. and several dozen late-afternoon and night classes were canceled to conserve energy.

“We decided to turn off all the air-conditioning except for critical areas such as the campus police, wellness center and our collection of reptiles and turtles in the science department,” spokeswoman Ruth Wardwell said.

Officials at Southern California Edison said that similar requests were made of about 1,500 commercial and industrial customers statewide. Those customers, they said, participate in a program that grants them lower rates year-round in exchange for a promise to cut back when reserves run low.

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Despite the soaring temperatures, no rash of weather-related injuries or serious fires were reported.

Nonetheless, those who are heading outside need to take a few precautions, said Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Capt. Scott Brown. People should wear lightweight clothing, reduce strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day, and drink lots of water to prevent dehydration, he said.

“The very young and very old are susceptible to heat complications,” he said. “We’d encourage people with medical conditions to not do any physical activity and keep themselves cool.”

Fire officials are coordinating with local relief agencies on preparatory measures, such as where to refer people who may need fans, Brown said.

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“I wouldn’t say we’re experiencing anything like Texas,” he said. “But we do need to be prepared.”

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Hot Stuff

Orange County afternoons seem balmy when compared to sun-scorched Palm Springs. A heat wave continues to grip many U.S. cities.

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*--*

City Temperature* Palm Springs 117 Riverside 106 Sacramento 102 Dallas 102 Van Nuys 100 Fullerton 90 Santa Ana 88 Newport Beach 81 San Diego 76 New York City 75

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* As of 4 p.m.

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Source: National Weather Service


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