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O.C.'s Beaches Fill as the Southland Sizzles; No Heat Records Set

Weather: Highs have been almost 20 degrees above normal. Lower temperatures forecast.

November 11, 1996

Temperatures fell a few degrees short of a record Sunday, but Southern California continued to cook--baking, broiling and frying in a fall heat wave that has lasted almost five days.

In Orange County, the high was 89 degrees in Anaheim, but meteorologists said they expect temperatures to fall in the next couple days as a high-pressure system starts to weaken.

Tens of thousands headed to the beaches Sunday, and lifeguards said they also expect a big holiday crowd today, Veterans Day.

"It's a really beautiful day," said Newport Beach lifeguard Gordon Reed. "There's a lot of people roller blading, bicycling, jogging . . . . Everyone's having a fun time."

He said he expected much of the crowd of 20,000--four times larger than the average November draw--to hang around until dark.

"There's been some really dramatic sunsets because of the smog and dust and high clouds," Reed said. "You get all those purple and orange hues."

In Laguna Beach, the Marine Safety Department called in two extra lifeguards to handle the crowds. On a typical November day, the crowd would total about 1,000, lifeguard Christian Corbo said. He estimated Sunday's crowd at 5,000.

Sunday was "absolutely gorgeous" in San Clemente, said Marine Safety Lt. Bill Humphreys. About 7,000 hit San Clemente's beaches, "an extremely large crowd, considering it's November," he said.

Huntington Beach drew about 15,000, "somewhere between five and 10 times the normal amount" for November, said marine safety officer Matt Karl.

"It looks like a typical weekday in the summer," he said.

The mercury hit 91 degrees in downtown Los Angeles, two degrees below the 1990 record for Nov. 10, but still 18 degrees above normal readings for this time of year, according to WeatherData Inc., a national meteorological service.

On Saturday, the Civic Center tied a 40-year-old record with a temperature of 94 degrees.

The heat spell is the product of local Santa Ana winds coupled with a high-pressure system that has sent warm air sweeping west from Utah. The conditions have kept prevailing sea breezes at bay and pushed even coastal temperatures into the 90s.

Mark Mulholland, a WeatherData meteorologist, said the warm weather is not unseasonable for Southern California's fall and winter, but noted that such high temperatures rarely reach all the way to the shore.

Diminishing Santa Ana winds should make for slightly lower temperatures today, with an expected high of 87 in downtown Los Angeles, Mulholland said. The forecast for the rest of the week calls for generally clear skies.

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