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Stay at home, preferably by an air conditioner: L.A. area heat wave may set temperature records

A heat wave will bake Southern California on Wednesday and Thursday, boosting temperatures to record-threatening levels in some areas.

The unseasonably warm temperatures — some 10 to 20 degrees above normal for this time of year — are the result of a “dome of warm air” that’s settled over the region and blocked cooler onshore flows from the ocean, according to David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“Those sea breezes are like our natural air conditioning,” he said, and once Mother Nature cranks that proverbial dial back down, “we’ll be right back to normal.”

The next two days will be a challenge, though. A heat advisory is in effect for Los Angeles and neighboring counties through Thursday night.

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Wednesday is expected to be the height of the heat wave, with temperatures in the 70s along the coast and the mid-80s to 90s inland.

Downtown L.A. is forecast to hit 95 degrees Wednesday, just below its daily record of 97, according to Sweet. Some inland areas could see triple-digit temperatures.

While significant, this week’s heat isn’t expected to be one for the history books in the Los Angeles area.

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“There could be one or two locations that will approach or break or tie a record, but it looks like it’s just going to be close,” Sweet said.

Other areas have already reached historic marks this week. The city of Indio climbed to 105 degrees Tuesday, tying a daily record high, and Anaheim, Newport Beach and Escondido all matched or surpassed their highest minimum temperature records for that day, according to the National Weather Service.

Thursday’s temperatures will be much the same as Wednesday, but maybe a few degrees cooler, Sweet said. The heat will begin to break starting Friday.

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“Then our warm spell will be over as we go through the weekend and into early next week,” Sweet said. “Temperatures will continue to cool so that, by Monday and Tuesday, downtown Los Angeles goes to the mid-70s.”

In anticipation of the sweltering conditions, Los Angeles County has opened emergency cooling centers that will provide relief from the heat while also complying with physical-distancing guidelines implemented in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Centers will be open from noon to 6 p.m, Wednesday and Thursday at the following locations:

  • El Cariso Community Regional Park, 13100 Hubbard St. in Sylmar
  • Buena Vista Library, 300 N. Buena Vista St. in Burbank
  • Loma Alta Park, 3330 Lincoln Ave. in Altadena
  • Mary M. Bethune Park, 1244 E. 61st St. in Los Angeles
  • Ruben F. Salazar Park, 3864 Whittier Blvd. in Los Angeles
  • South Whittier Library, 11543 Colima Road in Whittier
  • Valleydale Park, 5525 Lark Ellen Ave. in Azusa
  • Jackie Robinson Park, 8773 E. Avenue R in Littlerock

For more information, visit ready.lacounty.gov/heat or dial 211.

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During the heat wave, officials advise residents to stay indoors and avoid the sun as much as possible, as well as drink plenty of fluids. People and pets should not be left in cars.

Despite the dry and, in some places, gusty conditions, the National Weather Service hadn’t issued any local fire weather watches or warnings as of Wednesday morning.

While the conditions could be cause for concern, Sweet said potential fire fuel should still be in good shape following a significant springtime soaking.

A slow-moving storm has unleashed steady precipitation across Southern California over the past two days, drenching urban areas with rain and pounding the mountains with powder.

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“As we continue to have hot, dry weather like this, you certainly do tend to dry out the fuels, but we just got finished with a pretty good amount of rain in March and early April, so the fuel conditions are not quite there yet,” he said.


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