Record-breaking heat has returned to California as the state prepares for a sweltering weekend marked by Santa Ana winds and extreme fire danger.
New highs for the date were set Thursday in Long Beach, Oxnard, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. Temperatures hit the mid- to high 90s across Southern California. Downtown Los Angeles reached 96 degrees -- not a record, but still above normal for October.
Temperatures could top 100 in the valleys and lower mountain areas into Sunday. Temperatures in the mid-90s will blanket Dodger Stadium when Los Angeles takes on the St. Louis Cardinals Friday afternoon in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
The average high in downtown LA for Oct. 3 is 86 degrees.
In the San Fernando Valley, where average highs for the date are in the low to mid-90s, outdoor daytime athletic events were canceled for Friday, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Heat advisories and red flag warnings are in effect through Friday for some parts of Southern California. The red flag designation means firefighting agencies are preparing for hot, dry and windy conditions that could exacerbate brush fires.
"These sort of weather conditions make small fires go to big fires," said LA County Fire Inspector Randy Wright.
The warnings follow a late-September heat wave that caused more problems for a state entering a fourth-consecutive dry year. The abundance of bone-dry vegetation amid the California drought is a major factor in the wildfire threat, forecasters said.
"With extremely dry fuels in place, if fire ignition occurs there could be rapid spread of wildfire that would lead to a threat to life and property," the NWS statement said.
The Los Angeles Fire Department pre-deployed additional resources Thursday morning. These additional firefighters were expected to be deployed at select neighborhood fire stations serving high-hazard brush areas for at least a 24-hour period, with focus on the Porter Ranch area, Bel Air, Beverly Glen, Sun Valley and the Shadow Hills area, La Tuna Canyon, Encino, Sylmar, Laurel Canyon, Mulholland Drive and the West Hills/Canoga Park area.
Officials with the Angeles National Forest began stationing additional fire-suppression resources Wednesday night, with extra engines being pre-positioned and staff warned of 'round-the-clock operations. The Forest Fire Danger Level has been at "very high" and "conditions are only expected to get worse," said Forest Fire Chief Jim Hall.
Cal Fire also said the agency was moving extra engines and hand crews into Los Angeles County in response to the fire danger expected to last through the weekend.