Southern California's latest heat wave peaked Friday, generating triple-digit temperatures in several communities, while high surf slammed the coast, producing perilous rip currents expected to last through much of the weekend.
National Weather Service forecasters warned that the weather has increased the risk of heat-related illnesses for residents of the region, especially the homeless, senior citizens, infants and people working or playing outdoors.
Hot and dry conditions also created an "elevated fire danger," according to the NWS.
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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health declared a heat alert for the Los Angeles basin, Pomona and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. The alert is expected to remain in effect through at least Saturday, although it could be extended if the hot weather persists.
New temperature records were recorded throughout Southern California, according to the weather service. Chula Vista reached 98 degrees, topping the previous record of 97 degrees in 1994. El Cajon temperatures were as high as 103 degrees, replacing a record of 98 degrees for this day in 1991.
Escondido heated up to 102 degrees, breaking the previous record of 100 degrees set in 1909. Long Beach reached 102 degrees, tying a record for this day in 1988. Riverside recorded a high of 104 degrees, topping the previous record of 103 degrees in 1991. In Santa Ana, temperatures were a scorching 106, breaking a record of 102 set in 1988.
An NWS forecast indicated temperatures will drop Saturday -- generally three to five degrees -- and a few more degrees Sunday. Downtown Los Angeles is expected to revert to the 80s by Tuesday, then continue cooling down. Woodland Hills also is expected to return to the 90s Sunday and to the 80s Thursday. The NWS issued a heat advisory throughout Orange County today from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
As of Thursday, it had been issued only for inland areas but now includes Orange County beach communities as well. Also issued for Orange County was a beach hazard statement, which is less serious than a high surf advisory. It will be in force from late tonight through Saturday evening.
Forecasters have urged residents to protect themselves and others from the high heat. The weather service's recommendations included drinking plenty of water, wearing light and light-colored clothing, providing shade to livestock and pets, checking on elderly friends and neighbors, and "never leave any person or pet in a parked vehicle, even for a short time."
Temperature highs on Thursday, when the heat wave began in earnest as a result of high pressure anchored over the southwestern United States, turned out to be higher than had been forecast. Burbank was the hottest spot in Los Angeles County -- a distinction generally claimed by Woodland Hills -- with the high at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport reaching 102 to tie the Burbank record set on Oct. 8 1996.
Forecasters said the heat wave will begin to retreat Saturday, followed by a drop of five to 10 degrees Sunday. Along the coast, meanwhile, "a moderately long-period swell will bring dangerous rip currents and increased wave activity at area beaches this weekend," an NWS statement said. "If you get caught in a rip current, try to conserve your energy and not swim against the current. Try to swim parallel to shore to get out of the current," it said.
For marathoners preparing for Sunday's JetBlue Long Beach Marathon, the heat means they have to take extra precautions to protect themselves.
Nicolas Tisa, a first time marathoner, has been running for years, but he has been training for this race for months. His training will go for nothing, if he doesn't prepare himself for the heat.
"I have a little belt that has two little extra pouches for gels and water in it," Tisa said. "As far as staying cool, I hope the misters will be good enough."
Marathon organizers have set up an extra 10 misting and ice stations all over the race's route.
Eric Gressett, a marathon runner, found himself in an ambulance the moment he crossed the finish line at the marathon years ago.
"I came across the finish line completely dehydrated and literally woke up in the hospital," he said. "I had no idea where I was, who I was."
That year, the high was in the 70s. This Sunday's forecast, it's expected to be near the 90s, making this year's marathon the hottest on record.
Bob Seagren, CEO of Run Racing, said race organizers are letting the half marathoners, who would normally start at 7:30 a.m., start with the full marathoners at 6 a.m.
Recommendations included drinking plenty of water, wearing light and light-colored clothing, providing shade to livestock and pets, checking on seniors and neighbors and never leaving a person or pet in a parked vehicle, even for a short time.