Traffic Snarled on Sizzling Saturday, Lifeguards Brace for Record Crowds at Beaches

Lifeguard: "We anticipate it to be a record-setting day, not only in heat but probably numbers (of beachgoers) for March 14"

Heat records were shattered across Southern California on Saturday, causing concerns about heat stroke and water safety.

Downtown Los Angeles broke a heat record for March 14 when the temperature hit 93 degrees just before 1 p.m., far surpassing the previous record of 88 set in 1951, the National Weather Service

Other Southern California locales that set record temperatures were LAX at 90, UCLA at 92, Long Beach and Santa Ana at 94, and Newport Beach at 85.

The average high for March 14 is around 70 degrees.

Highways throughout LA were gridlocked, from the beaches to the mountains and downtown, at 1 p.m., according to NBC4's traffic map. Pacific Coast Highway was tied up in spots along the coast, from deep in Orange County north to Malibu, while flareups of slow traffic were seen in the Inland Empire.

Heat can induce dehydration, dizziness, faintness, cramps, headaches and fatigue, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which advised that anyone experiencing a heat-related illness call 911. Cooling centers were set up around Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles lifeguards were preparing for a wave of beachgoers to crash on the sand, bringing heavy traffic with them.

Friday's highs broke temperature records and more of the same was expected Saturday, according to NBC4 meteorologist Shanna Mendiola.

"We don't really expect it to be this hot this time of's actually the end of winter, we're not even at spring yet," said Mendiola, recommending that people hydrate, wear light colors and never leave kids, pets or elderly people in the car by themselves.

While NBC4's forecast called for the heat wave to last through the weekend, temperatures were expected to crest Saturday, Mendiola said, welcome news for runners of the LA Marathon -- its start time was pushed up half an hour to help runners beat the heat.

More Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguards were being posted to local beached than normal for March, as the agency expected a possible record number of people at the beach for the day, a spokesman said.

"We anticipate it to be a record-setting day, not only in heat but probably numbers (of beachgoers) for March 14," Capt. Mike McIlroy said.

That means more traffic, McIlroy said, advising that people driving to the shore "be patient" when looking for parking, because some drivers may make dangerous decisions, like U-turns into oncoming traffic, McIlroy said.

He also advised that people bring shade and sun screen to the beach and swim near a manned lifeguard station.

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