SPLISH SPLASH: Thousands flocked to Santa Monica State Beach on Thursday for a little relief from the record-breaking heat. Thursday was another in a string of record temps. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

SPLISH SPLASH: Thousands flocked to Santa Monica State Beach on Thursday for a little relief from the record-breaking heat. Thursday was another in a string of record temps. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@smdp.com)

CITYWIDE — The smoke from the land burning to the south is visible from space but not from Santa Monica, where visitors coat the beach and line up for ice cream.

The dry heat, which is partially responsible for those wildfires, is smashing records in the city by the sea.

On Tuesday, the Santa Monica Pier hit 90 degrees — the previous high for that date was 78 set in 1967. On Wednesday it was 85 degrees, blowing away the 1978 record of 76 degrees. Thursday’s previous record of 78 degrees, set in 1956, was broken by 10 degrees.

Often Santa Monica’s temperatures are calmed this time of year by the presence of the marine layer (May Gray, June Gloom) but a combination of a large high pressure system over the West Coast, an ongoing drought, and the warm Santa Ana winds leaves the bay city with little moisture in the air.

The lack of moisture has been a struggle for several City Hall departments all year including Public Works, which needs moisture in the air to plant new trees.

Heat can bring more people outside leading to arguments and fights, said Santa Monica Police Department Sgt. Jay Moroso, but SMPD doesn’t have data that proves an increase in calls for service.

“Generally, there are no changes in patrol due to heat,” he said. “The watch commander may decide to direct patrol resources in the beach area where there may be more people present during these heat waves.”

Mel Ebenstein of Bay Cities Furnace and Air Conditioning has seen a serious boost in calls for service.

“Beyond a doubt,” he said. “People tend to be much more reactive than proactive. I’d like to say that it might be a result of the economy improving but this happens every time there’s a heat wave.”

Since the heat wave hit, he’s been so busy that he’s had to turn people away. Ebenstein also does plumbing but he’s pulled all his advertising because the air conditioning need has been overwhelming. For business, a steady incline in temperatures is better, giving him time to keep up with the need.

“The air conditioning should get tuned up annually,” he said. “That’s the manufacturers talking, not me. As soon as the temperatures go in one extreme direction or another you starting finding out what’s broken.”

Coastal city residents, he said, tend to be more complacent because the weather is not typically this hot around this time of year.

The National Weather Service draws its Santa Monica temperatures from the Santa Monica Pier, where the climate’s been tracked since 1937. It is not an official National Weather Service station — because one year they failed to report observations — but NWS officials say the temperatures are legit.

Despite half century-old Santa Monica records shattered by 10 and 12 degrees this week, Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service, was unmoved.

“If you want a story, write about Santa Maria,” she said. “They went up to 105 degrees. That’s their all-time record for the entire month of May. This is just a heat wave. If it were going to last for weeks that’d be something but temperatures are supposed to cool off.”

Friday’s high for the shore is forecasted at around 80 degrees — the record is 80 from 1956.

Temps will likely drop again on Saturday, returning to normal by Sunday or Monday.

 

dave@smdp.com

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