Dan Christman is a police officer who works the streets in Southeast San Diego. He's noticed that, when the weather turns hot and sticky--as it did Friday with a pit-bull vengeance--a cop can start to expect trouble.
"In this kind of weather, people have a shorter fuse," Christman said. "They have less patience to deal with the problems of everyday life."
Police departments in Dallas and Houston record nasty increases in homicides during the 100-plus temperatures of a Texas summer. The San Diego Police Department has no such figures for the past couple of scorchers, but Christman senses an impact.
"The beer flows pretty freely on hot days," he said. "That's usually the bulk of the problem."
Psychologist Alan Sugarman said Christman is right on target.
"If somebody is vulnerable to stress because of their makeup, anything like this is going to make them feel more stressed," he said.
Friday had folks just buzzin' about the heat. Wally Cegiel, a forecaster with the U.S. Weather Service, said the high at Lindbergh Field was 81 degrees, with 74% humidity. He said normal humidity for late July is 50%.
El Cajon recorded a high of 94 degrees on Friday. Fallbrook reached 97, Escondido 95. Borrego was up there, as usual, at an otherworldly 114. The Wild Animal Park had a reading of 97.
Inland zones promise to be just as hot today, Cegiel said, with cooling along the coast.
"It's hot and on the muggy side," he said. "That combination is just enough for people to rev up the air conditioners, maybe too much so."
Maybe he's right. San Diego Gas & Electric recorded an all-time high in megawattage, according to spokesman Fred Vaughn.
"At 1:30 p.m., we reached a new all-time peak demand record," Vaughn said, "with customers demanding 2,523 megawatts. Our previous summer demand record was 2,404 megawatts, set on Aug. 19, 1986."
Vaughn said Friday's record reflected not just the heat but San Diego's growing popularity as a place to move to .
"We have 50,000 customers since last year," he said. "And a lot of the new homes these people are living in have air conditioning."
A lot of older homes do, too. Gail Rodieck, who lives in an area of San Diego she describes as "Baja Del Cerro," said that the air conditioning in her house had been on since early Friday. Rodieck said Friday's weather had given her a new nickname:
"This reminds me of Houston or Washington, D.C.," said Rodieck, who has lived here since 1965. "I swear San Diego's getting muggier. It's getting smoggier and more crowded. We've got too many people. They ought to go back where they belong."
Rodieck said she had spent part of Friday shopping in El Cajon and teaching her teen-age daughter, Allison, how to drive.
"Let's just say it was not a good day to be teaching a teen-ager how to drive," she said.
Bill Richardson, manager of the Guild Theatre in Hillcrest, said the Guild has air conditioning--which had been on continuously since 3 a.m. Friday.
"Yeah, it's workin' just fine here," Richardson said. "In fact, the place is (bleeping) freezing. The janitor left it on inadvertently, so the joint's like an icebox."
Richardson said that when he came to work Friday afternoon, the inside of the Guild was purring along at an Anchorage-like 55 degrees. He decided to leave the thermostat alone since it was "so toasty" on the normally balmy 5th Avenue sidewalk. Partly because of the heat, he expects big crowds today for the Guild's showing of "Da," starring Martin Sheen.
"It's more mainstream than a lot of the films we show," he said. "And, of course, we have air conditioning. . . . I expect a boost in cold-drink sales as well, and a less-than-subtle decrease in sales of java, or coffee."
Coffee was less in demand, and soft drinks more in demand, at downtown deli Tudor Too.
"It's much warmer outside than inside, and our place is usually pretty hot," said Cherryl Fellows, who, with sister Judy Fellows, co-owns Tudor Too. "People are just a little too oppressed by it today."
One strange facet had Fellows scratching her head. For some reason, people demanding cooler drinks still wanted chili.
"I can't believe they actually ask for it," she said. "They're perspiring already, and then they ask for chili, as though that will do the trick even more. I came from Kensington this morning. Everyone seemed to be driving so recklessly. I moved out onto (California) 94, and it got even worse."
Even the San Diego Chargers were nervous about the weather. Trainer Larry Roberts, supervising the players' health during training-camp workouts at UC San Diego, said he was taking precautions for today's 4:30 p.m. practice.
"We'll have to look for somebody going into heat illness," Roberts said. "As the humidity goes up, it decreases the body's ability to lose heat to evaporation. The air is so saturated with moisture, it takes more moisture from the body. In an athletic contest, the main way the body loses heat is from evaporation (sweating).