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While Others Freeze, San Diego Bakes

February 12, 1988|ARMANDO ACUNA | Times Staff Writer

The sun was shining and the wind was calm Thursday, so television weatherman John Wheeler walked two miles to work.

"Yeah, I bundled up real well. . . It's really in the way you dress. It's really not bad at all," he said.

Yes, while San Diego was enjoying a record-breaking winter heat wave that hit the 83-degree mark Thursday, Wheeler and fellow denizens of Fargo, N.D., made do with a high of minus 3.

That's 86 degrees separating Fargo and San Diego. "Let's see," said Wheeler, of station WDAY, "we haven't had an 83 since about mid-August."

What do people do in Fargo in the middle of winter?

"We have a lot of sex and drink a lot of beer," said Paul Jurgens, news director at radio station KFGO. Actually, the town of 65,000 does have one thing that should be familiar to San Diegans: a triathlon.

It's called the "Freeze Your Face Off Triathlon" and was held last weekend. The contest of cross-country skiing, ice skating and running produced a turnout of about 30 people. Don Knott, a newsman at the the station, said the trick now is to thaw the faces.

No need to worry about such delicate face-lifting if you're in San Diego, where the forecast for the weekend--including Monday's holiday--is just short of magnificent, with an emphasis on sunshine and high temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the mid-80s from the beach to the foothills. At night, lows will range from the mid-40s to the low 50s.

On Thursday, it reached 83 degrees just before 11 a.m. at Lindbergh Field, breaking a record of 81 for the date set in 1907. It was the second straight day a San Diego record melted away.

The highest temperature in the region was 87, registered in El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Oceanside and Spring Valley, followed by an 86 in Coronado.

A slight sea breeze kept the temperature from rising in the afternoon, though warm air and sunshine, caused by a strong Santa Ana condition, served as a magnet to draw people away from work and school and to the beaches.

Sitting on the Mission Beach seawall,

munching on tacos before a bike ride in the sun, developer Steve Lusk explained what he was doing: "It's called playing hooky."

"It's a '10' day," he said. "They just don't get any better."

"It's like heaven," added his wife, Lynn, a mortgage banker who was also playing hooky. "Heaven couldn't be any better."

Summer was on the minds of Ray and Be Tharpe, a retired couple from Minneapolis. Barefoot and shirtless, Ray Tharpe admitted he was out of his element.

"We are used to 17-below," said Tharpe, who with his wife has spent 10 days vacationing in San Diego. "We came out to suck up some of your rays. Look how pure white we are. Don't we look like tourists with the plastic bag, blankets and sunglasses?"

At the south Pacific Beach lifeguard tower, a lifeguard reported that about 3,000 people had descended on that portion of the sand and boardwalk. It was as close to a day in August as it can get in February, said lifeguard Rich Haynes, adding that large crowds are expected throughout the weekend.

While the water remains chilly, confining most people to land, a group of eight Chula Vista High School students jumped off a cliff in an area of La Jolla Cove called the Clam and had to be rescued by lifeguards, who used a boat to bring the students out.

None of the students were hurt badly or required hospitalization, though one apparently suffered a minor injury, Haynes said.

Thursday's strong Santa Ana is expected to dissipate today, bringing temperatures down about 2 or 3 degrees, National Weather Service forecaster Wilbur Shigehara said. By Saturday, highs should fall another 3 to 5 degrees, but still leave highs along the coast between 72 and 76, and between 75 and 80 inland.

On Sunday, another Santa Ana--though weaker than its predecessor--is expected to take hold, sending temperatures back up, with only slight cooling on Monday.

"It looks like there is going to be a lot of sunshine right through the holiday weekend," Shigehara said.

While the air was clean throughout the county Thursday, ranging from 25 to 42 on the Pollutant Standards Index, haze is expected to become prevalent today and Saturday, only to be whisked out again Sunday by the returning Santa Ana.

Tom Ryan, assistant air pollution meteorologist with the county Air Pollution Control District, said there's a possibility of smog reaching unhealthful levels today and Saturday in North County areas.

Highs in the deserts are expected to be similar to those along the coast and inland, ranging from the low 70s to the mid-80s throughout the weekend.

Times staff writer Raymond L. Sanchez contributed to this report.

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