As beaches remain closed, second heat wave bears down on Southern California

Cece Lewis and her golden retriever, Lala, play in the waves at Laguna Beach.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Southern California’s second heat wave in as many weeks is poised to bring scorching temperatures that could break records in Los Angeles County by midweek.

The warm-up will begin Monday afternoon, with temperatures in the low to mid-70s along the coast and highs in the mid-80s to low-90s in the valleys. Temperatures are expected to peak Thursday, when it could reach nearly 100 degrees in downtown Los Angeles, according to the National Weather Service.

“We have a ridge of high pressure, which is a dome of warm air that’s pushing up over the area, along with a little bit of an offshore push out of the northeast that’s going to suppress our cooling sea breezes,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The result is a scorcher that will bake inland cities across L.A. and Orange counties with temperatures 20 to 25 degrees above normal through Friday, Sweet said.


Temperatures on Wednesday are expected in the mid-70s at the beaches, the lower 90s in inland communities and up to 100 degrees in the valley. Thursday will be even hotter, with the mercury rising to the mid-80s along the coast, Sweet said.

The heat wave could topple records in portions of Los Angeles County on Thursday. The record high temperature for the day in downtown L.A. —set in 1941 — is 97 degrees. Forecasters say it’s possible temperatures could surpass that.

The skyrocketing temperatures come amid the coronavirus outbreak 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.

Officials in Los Angeles reminded the public ahead of the heat wave that beaches remained closed through May 15 under the county’s Safer at Home order. People should stay home as much as possible, venturing out only for essential activities, officials have said.

The last Southern California heat wave triggered crowds at some Orange County beaches that spurred Gov. Gavin Newsom to take action last week, calling for a “hard close” of all state and local beaches for the foreseeable future.

“My job as governor is to keep you safe,” Newsom said last week. “I have to make this adjustment. I hope it’s a very short-term adjustment.”

The move triggered a legal battle and protests in several coastal cities, including Huntington Beach, where roughly 2,500 protesters used megaphones and signs to demand that the state reopen its economy and allow life in public to return to normal.

Ventura and San Diego counties have been gradually opening their beaches and haven’t attracted the same crowds or scorn from Sacramento as Orange County has in recent days.

During the upcoming heat wave, forecasters say, people should 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 at their lowest.