Power lines
Power Lines. Photo by John Schreiber.

A heat wave has settled into the Southland, creating “dangerously hot conditions” that will create health-threatening conditions through the Labor Day holiday and cause an increased danger of wildfires.

“The very hot conditions through Labor Day will bring an increased threat of large fire activity including fires with large vertical growth,” the National Weather Service tweeted.

Woodland Hills is forecast to hit highs 117 degrees Sunday, according to the NWS.

“These highs on Saturday and Sunday will be about 15-25 (degrees) above normal across the region,” according to an NWS statement. “Temps will become dangerously hot for most areas, even over the coastal plain away from the beaches Saturday and Sunday. This kind of heat can be life-threatening and people are urged to use common sense, keep hydrated and stay out of the heat and in air-conditioned locations as much as possible.”

The anticipated high temperatures are sparking concerns about demand on the state’s power grid as residents turn up their air conditioners.

The California Independent System Operator, which manages the power grid, announced that a Flex Alert — a call for voluntary conservation — will be in effect from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday through Monday. Urging voluntary conservation is an effort to stave off too much strain on the state’s electrical system, possibly leading to rolling power outages, like those that occurred during high heat last month.

An excessive heat warning issued by the NWS will be in effect until 8 p.m. Monday in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains, Santa Catalina Island and the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, San Gabriel and Antelope valleys. In Orange County, the warning will be in force in coastal areas from 10 a.m. Saturday until 8 p.m. Monday.

“Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities.” according to an NWS statement.

“Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors,” the NWS advised, adding that children, seniors and pets must never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances since temperatures can quickly turn lethal in the current conditions.

“Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible.”

The weather service also noted that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments.

The high heat is being attributed to high pressure, which is forecast to settle into the Great Basin area through the weekend.

In forecasting an increased fire danger, forecasters said they were mainly focusing on the dryness that will take hold in the region, partly because of the absence of monsoonal moisture. Forecasters said humidity levels will fall to single digits in interior areas of L.A. County. But no red flag warnings indicating a high risk of wildfires are likely to be issued, principally because a key component of fire weather is missing — strong winds, forecasters said. Red flag warnings were issued, however, in parts of Riverside and San Diego counties.

Cooling centers will be open through the across Los Angeles and Orange counties. Authorities noted that due to the coronavirus pandemic, cooling centers will be limited in capacity and restrictions will be in place, such as requiring face coverings.

Temperatures will be several degrees higher Saturday than they were Friday, including a high of 107 degrees in Downtown L.A., which seldom reaches triple-digit territory. Pasadena will be at 113 and Woodland hills at 116. A significant cooling trend will begin Monday.

Temperatures will rise sharply Saturday in Orange County, reaching 115 in Anaheim and Fullerton, with a correspondingly sharp decrease Monday.

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