Southern California had a second straight day of record-breaking heat Wednesday, luring thousands of sun worshipers to the beaches, only to send many of them home when afternoon winds began blasting sand in their faces.
The warm Santa Ana winds blowing in off the desert and a strong sun in the cloudless sky combined to push the mercury to 88 degrees at the Los Angeles Civic Center, shattering the old mark of 85 set in 1971, the National Weather Service said. The normal high temperature for Feb. 10 is 68.
San Juan Capistrano was the warmest spot in the nation at 92 degrees. The reading broke by two degrees the record for the Orange County city set in 1981.
In San Diego, the temperature peaked at 80, eclipsing the old mark of 79 set in 1945.
Records were also broken in Northern California. Several cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, saw temperatures soar into the high 70s, breaking by several degrees the previous marks for the date.
"It's just like a summer day here," said Santa Monica lifeguard Don Rohrer, who estimated the mid-week crowd at about 20,000. "The water's up to 58 degrees from 53 and they're going in. We have our hands full down here."
It was the kind of day the Southland could gloat about, because the warm weather was not accompanied by the usual smog.
But the winds that scrubbed the air clean also dashed the plans of beachgoers hoping to get an early start on a summer tan.
"It's a higher than usual crowd, for sure, but the winds started blowing the sand around and a lot of them left," said Lt. Roger Smith at the Zuma Beach lifeguard station. He estimated the crowd there at 1,000.
Warmth to Continue
Meteorologists said the mid-winter heat wave will continue today and Friday and possibly through the weekend, with temperatures in the high 70s and mid-80s.
The only snag expected is an advisory for northeast winds of 30 m.p.h. to 40 m.p.h. through the canyons and mountains that could complicate travel plans, especially in the San Bernardino and Ontario areas.
High pressure is continuing to build across Northern California into Nevada and Utah, sending approaching Pacific storms far to the north and developing the Santa Ana condition in the Southland, forecasters explained.
"This pattern is very stable right now," said Dan Bowman of WeatherData Inc., which provides forecasts for The Times. "It doesn't show much chance of changing. It looks like record or near-record temperatures for the next two days at least."
Bowman said the winds could die down by the weekend, meaning increased smog and haze in the inland areas and fog along the coast.
The overnight low at the Civic Center was 58 degrees, just missing the 59-degree record for the highest low temperature set in 1907.
The humidity was low throughout the day, with a maximum of 41% and a minimum of 11%.