Monday, September 27

Hottest day on record in downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times; Monday, September 27, 2010, 7:18 PM:
L.A.'s hottest day ever

[Pundita note: Well, at least since record-keeping began for the city, which was 1877; LA was originally founded in 1781 by a Spanish governor.]

By Bob Pool and Rong-Gong Lin II

It was so hot Monday that it broke the all-time record — and the weatherman's thermometer.

The National Weather Service's thermometer for downtown Los Angeles headed into uncharted territory at 12:15 p.m. Monday, reaching 113 degrees for the first time since records began being kept in 1877.

Shortly after that banner moment, the temperature dipped back to 111, and then climbed back to 112. Then at 1 p.m., the thermometer stopped working.

The weather service office in Oxnard rushed an electronics technician 60 miles southeast to the USC campus to repair the thermometer, which is actually a highly sensitive wire connected to electronic equipment. Because of the snafu, officials said it's possible Monday's temperature actually was hotter than 113 — but they might never know. ...

Downtown L.A. was not the only place that set records. Long Beach tied an all-time record of 111. Other cities didn't break all-time records but registered new highs for the day. They include Burbank (110), Woodland Hills (111), Oxnard (100), El Cajon (109) and Indio (109).

It wasn't lost on weather aficionados that the record heat came after a summer of record low temperatures.

"Five days ago, we saw some of the lowest daytime temperatures we've seen in 50 years. ...

It was about 11 a.m. when the temperature hit 112 in downtown L.A., raising excitement at the Oxnard office that an all-time record would be broken. Scientists accelerated their checking of the USC weather station. They don't have a continuous feed of information and have to use a computer to dial into the station to check the temperature at a given time. So they began to check it every couple of minutes. ...

The previous all-time highest temperature in downtown L.A. was recorded on June 26, 1990. But Monday's temperature at 12:15 p.m. in downtown L.A. still doesn't exceed the all-time record for all of Los Angeles County. On July 22, 2006, perennial hot spot Woodland Hills hit 119 degrees.

Monday's records culminate a heat wave than began Saturday. The heat was produced by a muscular ridge of high pressure that anchored itself over Southern California. Those conditions combined with weak offshore winds that grew hotter as they pushed from the desert toward the coast. As a result, it was hotter in places like downtown, West Hollywood and Santa Monica than in some typically broiling inland areas.

With no marine layer in sight, Santa Monica hit 103 at around noon. It was slightly cooler on the Orange County coast, with Huntington Beach registering a high of 92 and Newport Beach 87.

Conditions are expected cool slightly Tuesday.

With the heat came heightened fire danger. It was about 110 in Thousand Oaks, where firefighters battled a 25-acre brush fire off the 101 Freeway.

"At the time, it was so hot that waves of shimmering heat were rising from the freeway," said passerby Aleia Wolkins of Canoga Park, "The flames made it even hotter."

A smaller brush fire was quickly extinguished earlier in the day in Ladera Heights.

The heat put pressure on Southern California's power grid, with utilities urging the public to conserve. Southern California Edison reported 11,000 customers without power Monday evening in such cities as Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Diamond Bar, Alhambra, Glendora and Rosemead. The heat prompted Metro to reduce the speeds on some of its rail lines, causing some delays. ...

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