Temperatures in Los Angeles are expected to increase dramatically over the holiday weekend. Courtesy image.

Local law enforcement agencies are preparing for an intense Labor Day weekend driven by a potentially dangerous combination of heat, racial tension and ongoing virus precautions.

California is forecast to roast through the Labor Day weekend under the influence of a massive area of high pressure that is expected to produce dangerously high heat.

The heat is expected to set in Friday in the south and spread northward, peaking on Sunday or Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Many temperature records are likely to fall and there is a chance that some all-time record highs will be recorded, the weather office for the Los Angeles region said Thursday.

The manager of the state power grid issued a Flex Alert calling for voluntary electricity conservation Saturday through Monday between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The California Independent System Operator earlier ordered power generators to postpone outages for routine maintenance from 6 a.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Sunday.

A mid-August heat wave strained the grid to the point where the Cal ISO ordered utilities to implement brief rolling blackouts for the first time since 2001.

Santa Monica’s beaches are a popular draw in any year and the heat may increase visitors to the area despite official warnings against large gatherings.

SMPD Lt. Joseph Cortez said information gathered from sources such as traffic cameras and patrol officers indicates visitor levels, particularly at the beach, are climbing back to near pre-COVID levels so the department is staffing for the weekend as it would any other year.

“There’s traffic, a lot of people at the beach, so we’ve already postured ourselves to staff the beach day and night, we have additional staff on Main Street and we’re working the downtown area to be a presence but that is a normal staffing level that we would do in the summer time or when we are seeing the large crowds coming back into Santa Monica,” he said.

“We are staffing pretty much as if what we would last year, I can say that we’re expecting to have a lot of traffic and hoping that people social distance and hoping that people are out there are adhering to COVID-19 restrictions.

State agencies are also anticipating a busy weekend with residents potentially gathering to celebrate the end of summer after being forced to forgo other activities this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has announced a Labor Day Weekend enforcement action that will include checks for social distancing and face mask compliance in addition to preventing underage sales. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) have also issued warnings against drunk driving.

SMPD had already increased patrols and officer visibility this week following social media threats of looting and increased tensions in Los Angeles following the shooting death of a black man by the Sheriff’s Department.

Cortez said there’s a lot of false and misleading information posted on social media but the department is working with county agencies to analyze threats before making decisions about staffing changes.

The department has been criticized for its response to the looting on May 31, including questions over SMPD’s response to social media posts advertising a local crime spree.

“We know that the community expects us to be on top of it and we are definitely driving that ship forward to make sure that we are taking every piece of information to vet it to see if it’s actionable intelligence,” he said.

He said there are additional officers on the streets and police vehicles are increasing their visibility through the weekend by traveling with their lights on.

“We also have (officers) out at community events such as farmers market,” he said. “We’re getting ourselves back out into community knowing that there will be people who are coming in on their holiday weekend.”