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Record temperatures, Santa Ana winds bring elevated fire risk to Southern California

Beachgoers walk past a sign advertising ice cream on the Venice boardwalk Wednesday.
A sign advertises ice cream on the Venice boardwalk Wednesday. Temperatures in some parts of Southern California were reaching into the 90s as the weekend arrived.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The unseasonable spate of warm weather lingering over Los Angeles will persist through the weekend — as will the potential for wildfire amid gusty Santa Ana winds, officials said.

By Friday afternoon, several daily temperature records had been set in the region, including a high of 93 degrees in Oxnard and 92 in Camarillo, according to meteorologist Rich Thompson with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The previous record for the date for both cities, 89 degrees, was set in 1974.

Records were also at stake from Orange County to San Diego, with high temperatures forecast to be 13 to 18 degrees above average. Anaheim and Newport Beach were both expected to beat their daily records of 92 and 85 degrees, respectively.

“It’s definitely above average, climatologically speaking,” said Adam Roser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego. “Some daily records are definitely going to be broken today.”

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The Southland will stay warm into the weekend, with more temperatures in the 80s and low 90s likely Saturday in many areas, including the coast.

But the heat is not the only hazard: Humidity levels could tumble as low as 8% and meet with Santa Ana winds as strong as 50 mph.

“HOT. DRY. WINDY. That’s the story for the next few days,” the weather service’s Los Angeles office tweeted Thursday.

As a result, “elevated to brief critical fire weather conditions will continue through the weekend,” the forecast said.

A new county report lays bare how social and economic inequality have left millions of local residents vulnerable as the climate crisis heats up.

The weather service is advising residents to use caution with fire sources and be wary of high winds while driving.

People should avoid outdoor activities that could create a spark and stay hydrated, they added.

Extreme heat in the Southland is a growing danger, with state officials on Friday announcing a possible ranking system for heat waves to raise awareness of heat’s deadly effects. Experts say extreme heat kills more people than any other climate-driven hazard, with one recent Times report noting that poor neighborhoods bear the brunt of its impact.

Thompson in the weather service’s Oxnard bureau said the heat and winds are not unusual for this time of year in Southern California.

“We’re still in the height of Santa Ana season here,” he said.

Friday is likely to be the hottest and windiest of the next seven days, Thompson said, with conditions slowly moderating through the weekend.

By the middle of next week, a cooling trend should bring more clouds and nighttime fog and the potential for more fall-like weather.


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