Southland Still on the Front Burner

Times Staff Writer

Southern California's already scorching July heat wave will get worse over the next few days, forecasters said Friday, straining the power supply and sopping shirts across the region.

July is shaping up to be the third straight month of unusually hot conditions: The latest record fell Friday, when the weather station at Pierce College in Woodland Hills measured triple-digit temperatures for the 16th day in a row.

The previous record was 15 consecutive days, said Jamie Meier, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard. "We'll definitely break the triple digits there again."

The weather service issued another extreme-weather advisory Friday and may well do the same today. Los Angeles officials are keeping senior citizens centers open this weekend to give the elderly a place to keep cool.

Both the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison reported Friday that a record amount of electricity was supplied to customers.

A fire in Santa Clarita took out two transmission lines that cut power to 6,400 homes and businesses in San Fernando, said Edison spokesman Tom Boyd. An unrelated outage affected customers in the Altadena area, he said.

About 1,300 DWP customers in Reseda, Encino and other parts of the San Fernando Valley lost power about 6 p.m. Friday, said spokeswoman Gale Harris.

Temperatures are expected to reach 112 in Woodland Hills this weekend. Other inland valleys are expected to see similar temperature spikes.

Downtown Los Angeles is expecting a high of 96 degrees today. The only reliable havens from the heat will be the coastal areas, where temperatures in the high 70s are forecast.

"We are expecting the hottest day of this whole stretch," Meier said.

But some relief is in sight, meteorologists say.

"On Sunday we're going to start cooling off a little bit by a few degrees," Meier said. "We'll be in the low 100s in the Valley and the mid-90s midland."

Bill Patzert, a meteorologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge, said Southern California could experience at least a week of cooler weather, beginning early next week with temperatures dipping into the upper 80s.

"If we can hold out ... it looks like we'll have some relief," Patzert said.

The heat wave baking most of the country is largely caused by a high-pressure system centered in the drought-ridden Southwest. The system has acted as a spinning buffer against a cool jet stream that wiggles across the border between Canada and the United States.

"We should have about one more week of this ahead of us, and then that jet stream hugging the Canadian border in the West looks like it will make an excursion south," Patzert said. "By the end of next week, we should get some cool air from Canada."

Meier said the humidity should decrease a bit, though a general mugginess will still pervade the air. Thunderstorms are forecast for some parts of Southern California, she said.

The average high temperature for downtown L.A. for the month of July has been 90 degrees so far, Meier said.

That is not a record, but it's the hottest July since 1998, she said. And it's five degrees hotter than normal.

Looking beyond the expected break in the scorching heat, Patzert says that it will just get hot again. And probably hotter.

"August and September are our warmest months. And of course as we get into September, those are our Santa Ana months," he said.

Heat has been a major concern in the Central Valley as well. In Kern County, officials said they were investigating four deaths that might be related to the heat.

Times staff writer Jean Guccione contributed to this report.



Keeping your cool

Extreme heat can cause serious illness, even death, and is particularly dangerous to the elderly and young children. Here are some tips for dealing with the heat:

Drink plenty of water but avoid caffeine and alcohol, which cause fluid loss.

* Drink fruit juice or sports drinks to replace salt and minerals lost through sweat.

* Take advantage of shade and air conditioning. If you don't have an air conditioner, go to a shopping mall or public library.

* Children, the elderly and pets should never be left in an enclosed vehicle, even briefly. The temperature can quickly rise to life-threatening levels even with the windows partially open.

* The city of Los Angeles is keeping senior citizens centers open this weekend to provide people with a place to cool down. For information, call (310) 548-7671 or the city's 311 information line.

Sources: National Weather Service, Los Angeles County Department of

Public Health, Times reports

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