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L.A. and Southern California sizzle as ‘heat dome’ blankets Western U.S.

As he stood on the roof of a theater under construction in Leimert Park, David Rubalcava wore no more valuable piece of protective gear than his Ray Ban sunglasses.

He judged the midday heat on Tuesday as uncomfortable but not too bad — yet. Instead, Rubalcava worried more about how the sun reflected off light-colored construction material.

“Anything that’s reflective, it glares back into your face, eyes and skin,” the supervisor said. “It’s like walking from a dark room to outside.”

At least he wasn’t back home in Whittier, he said, where the temperatures were hotter.

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“This one is not that bad to tell you the truth,” Rubalcava said of Southern California’s latest heat wave.

As is often the case in this vast region of often starkly different micro-climates and temperature differentials, one person’s scorcher is another’s it’s-pretty-hot. What was indisputable was that it was plenty toasty and likely to get toastier, with temperature records likely to fall across Southern California over the next two days as a heat wave smothers the western United States, according to the National Weather Service.

“The bottom line is, it’s just going to be hot,” said Jayme Laber of the National Weather Service’s Oxnard office. “There’s widespread potential for [broken] records today and tomorrow.”

That means places that approached record temperatures Monday will likely eclipse those temperatures on Tuesday, Laber said.

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Areas that are expected to set records Tuesday include Burbank, where the forecast 103 degrees would beat the record of 102; Woodland Hills, where the 108 forecast would beat the current 107; and Santa Barbara, where a forecast of 95 degrees would obliterate the record of 82.

“When I look at tomorrow, I see the same situation,” Laber said. “We’re forecasting a couple degrees higher than the record.”

The only area that offers any sort of relief from the extreme heat will be the coast, where temperatures will reach the 80s.

The blistering conditions are the result of a “heat dome” that is centered over Las Vegas and Arizona and extends across the entire Western U.S., Laber said. By Wednesday, the center of that dome will move to Southern California.

It’s a typical summer weather pattern. However, this year, it has crawled farther west than usual, Laber said. With it comes a host of potential complications that utility workers, firefighters and health officials all have to manage.

On Monday, hundreds of Angelenos found themselves without power in the middle of the afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It took several hours, but power was restored by the end of the night, the utility reported.

In hopes of getting ahead of the inevitable surge in power usage, the California Independent System Operator — which runs the electrical grid — issued a flex alert calling for customers to reduce power usage from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

Los Angeles County, meanwhile, has opened up cooling centers for residents. Firefighters are also on alert for any brush fires that could flare up amid the brutal summer heat.

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Lourdes Vargas, a housekeeper in South L.A., said the heat made her job more miserable.

“I sweat and sweat and sometimes that causes eye infections,” she said. “And there’s a lot more heat from the vacuum.”

Vargas said blasting air conditioning didn’t do much good for her, either, because it gives her headaches.

“I don’t even want to leave the house, but one has to work,” she said, vowing to take a long nap as soon as she got home.

As he walked into the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw shopping center, Mickey Valentine, 74, wasn’t sweating the heat wave too much. Wearing a loose, light blue Hawaiian shirt, he said perhaps the truest thing one could say about weather:

“Ain’t nothing you can do about it. It’s nature.”

alejandra.reyesvelarde@latimes.com

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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