August's first Saturday blasted heat records throughout Southern California, as summer made a fiery break from a July that had been marked by overcast skies and moderate temperatures.
The temperature hit 103 degrees in Pasadena, breaking a record set in 1938. Other records included a blistering 106 in Chatsworth, 102 in Burbank and 99 in Long Beach.
A reading of 98 degrees at the Los Angeles Civic Center topped the previous record of 95--a mark that had endured since 1971.
Accentuating the sudden heat wave, meteorologists say, is the warming trend's timing: The hot blast follows a relatively cool July, when overall temperatures measured below normal. An especially persistent layer of marine clouds helped moderate the summer swelter--until now.
The average high at the Civic Center in July was a comfortable 81.4, the coolest since 1993. Since 1948, there have only been eight years in which the Civic Center average high for July was lower than this year's reading.
Last month's mild spell is credited with reducing use of electricity and water. July found a citywide 1.2% decrease in power usage compared to the previous year, according to the Department of Power and Water. The DWP expects a drop in water consumption during July of about 2%, or 366 million gallons.
But there is little prospect of a renewed respite in August, when the marine layer and accompanying sea breezes typically retreat and the mercury rises. Warming ocean temperatures add to the torrid conditions that were so evident Saturday.
"This July seemed cool to a lot of people," said Bruce Rockwell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "But I think we're going to make up for it this month."
Yet, Rockwell hastened to add, not every day should be as scorching as August's sweltering opening. Forecasters anticipate average high temperatures one or two degrees above the August normal high, which is about 85 degrees at the Civic Center.
Still, the heat comes without the dreaded humidity that can make summers such a hellish affair elsewhere in the country.
High temperatures should last until midweek, though some clouds from a storm system now over Arizona could drop readings somewhat. But the clouds may also increase humidity.