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Heat wave to bake Southern California, creating potential fire danger

A man wears a mask and wide-brimmed hat as he walks along Junipero Beach in Long Beach on June 11.
A man wears a mask and wide-brimmed hat as he walks along Junipero Beach in Long Beach on June 11, 2020.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

A heat wave is set to roll into Southern California beginning Thursday — bringing dangerous temperatures and potentially hazardous fire conditions to the region.

The hot spell will bake the region through Saturday with temperatures roughly 10 degrees above normal for this time of year, according to Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

High temperatures over the next few days will generally fall between 96 and 106 degrees in inland areas.

“Beaches will probably be in the upper 70s, so there’s a real quick warm-up once you get into the valleys,” Kittell said Wednesday.

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The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for a wide swath of Southern California — including inland areas of Los Angeles, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties — that will be in effect from 11 a.m. Thursday to 9 p.m. Saturday.

That advisory means sensitive populations, “the very young, the very old, those without access to air conditioning and those who have to spend many hours outdoors,” are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses, according to Kittell.

“If you have to be outside, do as much work as you can in the morning when it’s the coldest and, certainly, find ways of staying cool,” he said.

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That’s particularly true in the San Diego County deserts and the Victor and Coachella valleys, parts of which will be under an excessive heat warning Thursday through Saturday — indicating dangerously hot conditions are expected. Some areas could top out around 120 degrees.

Kittell said it appears the heat wave will peak Friday, with conditions beginning to cool off Sunday. Temperatures should return to normal levels by Tuesday.

“People might be doing some hiking, whatever they can do to escape the doldrums of COVID,” he said. “If you are going to do any kind of outdoor activity, try to do it early or reschedule for next weekend.”

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Although forecasters don’t anticipate issuing any red flag warnings in the Southland during the heat wave, which would indicate critical fire weather conditions, Kittell said “there will be some elevated concerns,” particularly in the mountains and desert areas.

“The vegetation, the fuels, are drying and there will be a little bit of wind, especially over the interior areas,” he said. “If a fire were to get started, it would grow quickly.”


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