High atmospheric pressure and a lack of offshore breezes helped push temperatures to record highs Monday as a spring heat wave settled like a blanket over much of Southern California.
Triple-digit temperatures were reported in coastal cities, inland valleys and the deserts, as firefighters began a nervous watch for wildfires and power officials monitored rising electricity use.
The National Weather Service reported 99 degrees in downtown Los Angeles, beating a record of 91 degrees for the date. Other records included highs of 100 in Santa Maria on the Central Coast, 91 in San Francisco, which averages 65 degrees this time of year, and 93 in San Jose. Chino had the nation’s high, 106 degrees.
Long Beach registered 101 degrees, just four degrees below Death Valley’s high, while Anaheim reached 105 degrees. Simi Valley hit 100 degrees, and Ontario reached 101.
The National Weather Service predicted that temperatures in the 80s and 90s would continue through today, but would give way to cooler weather by the end of the week.
“All I know is that it was hot,” said Kelly Spruell, a worker in Sherman Oaks. “It was very hot. I just stayed inside my office and in the air-conditioning all day.”
Widespread use of air conditioning was cited for a sudden boost in power consumption Monday.
Stephanie McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the California Independent System Operator, which monitors state power use, said power demand was up “about 600 megawatts above forecast.” A megawatt can supply power to about 1,000 homes.
State regulators urged people to reduce use of air conditioners, washers and other appliances during the peak hours of 4 to 7 p.m.
High temperatures stoked a 2,083-acre wildfire that destroyed two mobile homes and nine vehicles, and threatened as many as 400 homes in southern Riverside County, but the blaze was fully contained Monday after burning for more than a day.
Firefighters in Los Angeles County fared much better, responding to only a few minor grass fires. High temperatures, fire officials said, posed more of a risk to residents Monday.
“We’re advising people to stay out of the sun and to work during the cooler hours,” said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells. “We’re also reminding them to stay hydrated and to check on their neighbors.”