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The heat wave is here, and it’s going to stay with us for days to come.

We haven’t seen anything yet.

A heat wave settled into the Southland Thursday, driving up temperatures and fire risk, while prompting warnings for residents to cut energy use and guard against health problems.

The temperature began climbing Wednesday, and the hot weather is expected to continue through the weekend, with the “hottest conditions” expected Saturday and Sunday, when inland temperatures will be between 5 and 10 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service.

An excessive heat warning will be in place Friday through Sunday.

“A prolonged period of very hot weather is expected Friday through Sunday across the mountains and valleys of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where triple-digit heat will be widespread,” according to the NWS. “The heat wave will bring the risk of heat-related illness through the weekend, as well as an increased threat of power outages. In addition, there will be elevated fire danger across all interior portions of southwest California through the weekend, especially foothill and mountain locations.”

Forecasters noted that the heat will raise the risk of wildfires, with humidity dropping in some areas to around 10 percent, coupled with temperatures in the 100 to 107 range — and 20 to 25 mph breezes possible.

“Overnight humidity recoveries will be good in all areas except the foothills and mountains where humidities will remain at or below 25 percent overnight,” according to the NWS. “The hottest and driest days are expected to be Saturday and Sunday, though Friday and Monday will be very similar.”

Temperatures topped out at 104 in Woodland Hills, Lancaster and Saugus Thursday and reached 103 in Van Nuys, Acton and Northridge. Palmdale heated up to 101 degrees, while Burbank and Pomona both hit the 100-degree mark. Downtown Los Angeles topped out at 91, while Long Beach reached 93 degrees.

The heat wave, resulting from high pressure over the region, will show signs of retreat on Monday, but “temperatures will remain above normal in most places,” followed by more cooling on Tuesday, the NWS statement said.

In the meantime, area residents should take steps to protect themselves from the potentially harmful conditions, forecasters said, stressing that children, the elderly and pets should never be left in parked vehicles in the heat. A graphic on an NWS website indicated that if the outside temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it can climb to 99 inside a parked vehicle within 10 minutes.

The NWS also issued these recommendations:

— drink plenty of water;

— wear light-colored and lightweight clothing;

— stay out of the midday sun;

— provide shade and water for livestock and pets; and

— check on neighbors and the elderly.

The recommendation to check on people who could be vulnerable appeared particularly pressing, given the tragedy in France in 2003, when a heat wave killed more than 14,800 people, mostly the elderly, many with relatives away on vacation.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health declared a heat alert for the San Fernando and eastern San Gabriel valleys.

“When temperatures are high, even a few hours of exertion may cause severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer. “Others who are frail or have chronic health conditions may develop serious health problems leading to death if they are exposed to high temperatures over several days.”

County officials also urged people with no access to air conditioners to take advantage of cooling centers to escape the heat. A list of cooling centers is available online at

Utilities, meanwhile, urged residents to conserve energy. Officials at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said customers should especially try to cut back on power use between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“During times of extreme heat, we strongly encourage customers to conserve energy wherever possible as long as it does not jeopardize anyone’s own health or safety or the health and safety of their pets,” DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said.

DWP officials said they expect power demand to be about 5,200 megawatts in the city of Los Angeles Thursday, compared to the usual summer average of 4,700 megawatts.

To help conserve energy, DWP officials recommended:

— adjusting thermostats to 78 degrees;

— limiting the use of appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers during peak hours;

— closing drapes and blinds;

— turning off lights in rooms not being used;

— unplugging devices that can use energy even when they’re not being used, such as cell phone chargers, DVD players and microwave ovens; and

— ventilating homes by opening windows and doors to allow cooler air to circulate.

—City News Service

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