Although Southern California is known for its sunshine, Los Angeles’ heat wave has turned the sun and seaside activities from delightful to dangerous.
Temperatures on Friday were over 90 degrees in coastal towns and as high as 106 inland. The heat wave is expected to continue through the weekend. Los Angeles residents are being urged to refrain from strenuous outdoor activities and to take caution in dry areas due to fire danger.
The heat was being produced by a “humongous” dome of high pressure that was also spreading oppressive conditions into parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah, the National Weather Service said.
The offshore flow of air pushed back the normal moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean produced startling early morning temperatures: Many Southern California locations reported temperatures above 80 degrees (26.6 Celsius) before dawn. At 3 a.m., it was 98 degrees (36.6 Celsius) in Gaviota on the Santa Barbara County coast about 125 miles west of Los Angeles, the weather service said.
The Santa Monica Beach and Pier were saturated with tourists and locals, some fatigued by the heat and others enjoying it. Beach lifeguard Eldin Onsgard encouraged beach-goers to remain in the shade and spoke of the dangers of excessive activity in the heat.
“On hot days you should stay in the shade. During heat waves people get very hot, so they hit the water, and they spend too much time in. This is the time of the year where our swells start changing directions, we get some riptides, and if they get caught in a rip, that’s why we’re here,” Onsgard said.
The dangerous water was caused in part by a lingering south swell from former Hurricane Fabio that combined with a local northwest swell to produce dangerous rip currents and the possibility of sneaker waves.
The summertime heat is normal to locals, but tourists like Shree Patel said they preferred their home state’s humidity to Santa Monica’s dry July-climate.
“We just came out here to be tourists, but it’s like 115 today,” Patel said. “Not as humid as back home, but it’s hotter and dryer here. I like the weather at home better.”
In 90 plus weather, there is an increased risk of heatstroke that comes with going outside. Experts advise anyone outside to limit their exposure to direct sunlight, wear sunscreen, drink water but avoid alcohol or caffeine.
Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, red skin, changes in consciousness, rapid or weak pulse, and rapid/shallow breathing. Individuals with heat stroke should call 9-1-1 and move to a cooler place until help arrives.
The heat may be taking a toll on people’s’ health, but sunny days also mean an influx of more customers for boardwalk stands and attractions.
Juan Medina, a vendor for Wetzel’s Pretzels on the boardwalk, said summer months attract the most customers.
“It’s the busiest season for us. The heat is the only bad part about really and you just have to stay hydrated,” Medina said.
While the high temperatures provide culture shock for some tourists, others appreciate it. To visiting Canadian Lise Clermont, the Santa Monica weather is a chance to cool down, “It’s beautiful. It was warmer in Canada for the past week, it was like 114 degrees when I left, so I’m okay with this actually … I love it.”