Heat wave to arrive in Southern California just in time for Memorial Day

Heat wave
Jeremy Moskovitz practices physical distancing along with other visitors to Bluff Park in Long Beach in early May.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Southern California’s third heat wave of the year is poised to bring scorching temperatures just in time for Memorial Day celebrations, but officials are cautioning the public to remain vigilant about social distancing when heading outside to soak up some sun.

While temperatures along the coast are expected to linger in the mid-70s throughout the weekend and early into next week, the mercury will rise significantly beginning Monday — into triple digits in some areas — in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire, said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The heat wave is expected to peak Wednesday, but warm weather will likely linger a while, Boldt said.

“These high temperatures are going to continue pretty much through next week,” he said. “We might see a little relief toward Friday and Saturday, but it seems like the rest of May is going to be warm.”


Temperatures throughout Southern California are expected to be about 20 degrees above normal for the time of year.

Downtown Los Angeles is expected to see temperatures into the mid-80s on Memorial Day, while more inland cities like Pasadena are expected to top 90 degrees. Desert regions, including Palm Springs, will sizzle with 100-degree temperatures through much of next week, forecasters said.

The weather service issued an excessive heat watch for the San Diego County deserts, Apple and Lucerne valleys and the Coachella Valley, warning of dangerously hot conditions beginning Monday morning and lasting until Friday evening. Temperatures between 105 and 110 degrees are possible in the low deserts and 100-106 degrees in the high desert.

“Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, particularly for sensitive groups and those working or participating in outdoor activities,” the weather service wrote.

Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are now open daily from before sun-up to past dawn. Laguna Beach is keeping stricter weekend times, closing midday.

Officials anticipate that many Californians will flock to the coast to get some relief. After sometimes lengthy closures amid the coronavirus outbreak, many Southern California beaches have recently reopened with certain modifications.

Beachgoers won’t be able to bring their coolers and umbrellas and lounge on the sand this weekend, but active uses including walking, jogging and swimming are allowed along the coast in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Los Angeles County officials announced that beach bike paths and some beach parking lots are reopening in time for the holiday weekend.


While Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer encouraged Angelenos to celebrate Memorial Day and enjoy being outside, she warned them to allow for physical distancing and refrain from packing the sand during beach outings.

Memorial Day will be very different in 2020. Instead of large gatherings with friends and family, try some of these alternatives.

“Many of our beautiful outdoor spaces are open, and we can enjoy them as we practice physical distancing and wear our cloth face coverings when we’re around other people,” Ferrer said during a news conference this week.

“The virus hasn’t changed. It’s still relatively easy to become infected, particularly if you’re not taking precautions.”