hot sun
Photo courtesy National Weather Service

It’s almost November, but the Southland received a thorough baking Monday as a heat wave sent temperatures soaring to record levels and put fire crews on high alert thanks to elevated wildfire conditions.

Downtown Los Angeles reached a record high for this date of 102 degrees, breaking the mark of 98 set in 1965. Los Angeles International Airport hit 101 degrees, Burbank Airport reached 102 degrees and Long Beach Airport reached 105 — all breaking records set in 1965.

The temperature reached 100 degrees at UCLA, breaking the record of 98 — set in 1939. Palmdale Airport hit 92 degrees, tying the record set in 1959, while Sandberg tied the record of 84 degrees set in 1959.

The heat, coupled with low humidity and gusting Santa Ana winds, led to the imposition of a red flag warning, signifying a heightened risk of wildfires. The warning is expected to remain in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday in much of the Southland, with the exception of the Antelope Valley.

“This event is especially concerning because of the multiple-day nature of it, which we have not seen yet this season, and such events have a history of large fires,” according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters said winds are expected to peak on Tuesday, with winds of 20 to 30 mph gusting to 50 in wind-prone coastal and valley areas. Meanwhile, humidity will hover around 5 to 10 percent.

“Widespread record-breaking heat will exasperate the situation, with highs between 95 and 105 common and lows between 65 and 75 common,” according to the NWS. “Some windy and hilly locations may only drop into the 80s at night.”   A risk of wildfire also exists in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, according to the NWS.

The red flag warning will be in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday in the San Gabriel Mountains in L.A and Ventura counties, the forest that spreads over the mountains — the Angeles National Forest in L.A. County and Ventura County’s Los Padres National Forest — the Santa Monica Mountains, the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys, and the Los Angeles coastal zone, which includes beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles, downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills. The Antelope Valley was the only L.A. County region not under a red flag warning.

“With these prolonged weather conditions and the very dry fuels/vegetation, extreme fire behavior is likely if any fire ignition begins, threatening life and property,” the NWS warned. “The public should be very, very careful with any potential ignition sources such as welding and brush clearing equipment, as well as campfires and cigarettes.”

The high heat was attributed to strong high pressure combined with warm Santa Ana winds.

The weather service stressed the health risks arising from high heat and urged residents to protect themselves and those around them, including by never leaving people or pets in parked cars, whose interiors can quickly heat up to lethal temperatures, even with windows cracked open.

In response to the forecasted heat, the Long Beach Unified School District announced that all of its schools will be on a “minimum day schedule,” meaning students will be released early, on Monday and Tuesday. Parents were urged to contact individual schools for information about exact release times.

Cal/OSHA, meanwhile, issued a reminder to employers across the state about protecting outdoor workers.

“Heat waves can occur well into autumn in California, so it’s important to remind employers of their responsibilities to protect workers from heat- related illness,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said. “Our goal is to prevent illnesses and deaths caused by exposure to heat.”

Cal/OSHA urged workers experiencing possible overheating to seek out shade until the symptoms recede. Workers with existing health problems or medical conditions such as diabetes were urged to be extra vigilant. Some high blood pressure and anti-inflammatory medications can also increase a worker’s risk for heat illness.

–City News Service

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