Emily Sawicki

Thursday was hot; Friday will be more of the same.

The Southern California coast was sweltering under an early-season heatwave this week; the temperature in Santa Monica got up to 92 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, with the National Weather Service (NWS) predicting highs up to 90 at the Santa Monica Airport on Friday. 

The temperature hit 90 before 11 a.m. Thursday, with no recorded wind, according to the NWS, and clear, sunny skies over Santa Monica. Throughout the day, wind speeds remained low, hovering between five and 10 miles per hour, as the temperature hovered around 90 until about 3:30 p.m.

The hot weather drew summertime crowds to the Santa Monica Pier and Beach, with sunburned tourists lining up outside Pier businesses to buy cold drinks and ice cream around midday Thursday. 

The high temperatures prompted an NWS heat advisory for beaches in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles counties, which was set to expire by 6 p.m. Friday. 

“Hot temperatures may cause heat illnesses to occur,” according to the advisory, which suggested ways to stay cool.

“Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances,” the advisory cautioned. “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 heatstroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.”

The City of Santa Monica advised local residents looking to stay cool to check out their local library; however, most locations are still offering extremely limited hours. According to the Santa Monica Public Library website, only the library’s Pico Branch, located at 2201 Pico Boulevard, would be open to the public on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Ocean Park Branch would also be open for self-service, but preregistration two to three business days in advance was required to enter. On Thursday, no local libraries were open until the Main Branch and Pico Branch both opened at 2 p.m.

The limited hours were a surprise to some residents who showed up at the library’s Main Branch and tried the doors just before 11 a.m. Friday, only to be turned away. 

In a statement shared with the Daily Press, the City offered advice for staying safe in the heat, including avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., wearing wide-brimmed hats and light colored clothing, and avoiding “hot, heavy meals that include proteins.” The City also advised to drink plenty of water.

Coastal cities in the wildland urban interface such as Montecito and Malibu were bracing for fire weather conditions, with Santa Ana winds predicted Thursday, putting local fire stations on alert for the possibility of wildfires — a rare occurrence in April, although for years fire experts have been warning of year-round fire seasons due to persistent drought conditions. Fortunately, recent rain decreased the probability a fire could grow out of control.

The City of Montecito Fire Department Tweeted that it had increased staffing due to concerns over fire risk; the City of Malibu wrote: “The Santa Ana winds will produce some very dry conditions with low humidity, resulting in elevated fire weather conditions in some areas, although extreme fire behavior/growth is not expected due to high fuel moisture levels. Be very careful with any potential fire ignition sources.”

A small fire was reported in Simi Valley on Wednesday afternoon, which was kept to about three acres; no other Southern California fires were reported as of Thursday at 6 p.m.

The heatwave was expected to break by Saturday, according to NWS predictions, with patchy fog in the morning a high of 76 on Saturday and just 69 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday. There was even “a slight chance of rain after 11 p.m.” predicted for Monday, with lows over the weekend in the 50s.

emily@smdp.com