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As heat wave sizzles in Southern California, out-of-towners urged to avoid beaches

Southern California’s first heat wave of the year is poised to bring scorching temperatures that could break records in Los Angeles County by the weekend.

Temperatures are expected to peak Friday and Saturday, when it could reach 95 degrees in downtown Los Angeles and 102 in the Coachella Valley. Inland cities across L.A. and Orange counties can expect to bake, with temperatures 15-20 degrees above normal through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

“These are very warm conditions for this time of year,” said Rich Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “We have some high pressure off the California coast that’s keeping things clear and a northerly offshore wind that’s allowing things to warm up significantly over the next few days.”

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The unseasonably warm weather prompted forecasters to issue a heat advisory, warning of high temperatures that could cause illness. The advisory, to be in place from 11 a.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday, includes much of Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Temperatures are expected to remain above normal — into the mid-80s — through the middle of next week, Thompson said.

Forecasters suggest people drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned space, stay out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors when it’s safe. When possible, strenuous outdoor activities should be done in the early morning or evening when temperatures are the lowest, Thompson said.

The springtime heat wave could rewrite the record books. Los Angeles International Airport, downtown L.A. and Pasadena are all poised to break decades-old records over the weekend.

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The first scorcher of 2020 comes amid the coronavirus pandemic and public health orders that have closed many outdoor recreation areas, including parks, pools and beaches where people typically flock to cool off during warm weather.

Beaches and trails across L.A. County remain closed, but some nearby counties still have stretches of sand open. However, public health officials are warning people not to travel to the coast this weekend and maintain social distancing in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Orange County officials debated this week whether to close beaches and trails during the upcoming heat wave after coastal residents raised concerns about out-of-towners descending on their communities in droves. Since surrounding counties have completely shuttered their beaches, Orange County has been inundated with people from L.A. and San Diego counties and the Inland Empire, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said this week.

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“When you take a look at the folks that are coming down, they’re not only not adhering to Safer-at-Home policies in their own communities, they’re not even staying in their own counties. Especially with the warm weather, I think it’s going to be problematic,” she said.

Orange County officials ultimately decided to keep beaches open but left in place parking restrictions that will reduce access.

The city of Ventura eased its hard closure on parks and beaches this week.

Under the amended rules, residents can access the city’s beaches, pier, promenade and parks as long as they keep their distance from one another and keep moving. People can walk on the pier or the sand but are not allowed to sit or to stand against the railing to fish, for example.

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“We want to provide an opportunity for our community to enjoy our amazing resources in a socially responsible manner while we continue to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere said.


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