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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Weather Runs Hot and Cold

May 23, 2000|CATHERINE BLAKE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It was so cold when Robin Vaneyk rolled out of his Ventura bed Monday that he wore a jacket while he drank his morning coffee.

He thought it was no way to spend one of his few days off. So, before long he stuffed his dog, Koji, in the car, slathered on the sunscreen and headed for the Ojai mountains to bake in the hot sun along the Matilija Creek, where the mercury rose to the high 90s.

While coastal cities were smothered in fog all day, inland cities such as Ojai, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks cooked under cloudless skies accompanied by high temperatures.

Ojai broke heat records during the weekend, eclipsing highs that were last reached in spring of 1967. Ojai's official temperature wasn't available Monday, but the city reached 101 degrees on Sunday and 97 on Saturday.

On Monday, county temperatures varied from 71 degrees in Oxnard and Ventura and 69 degrees in Point Mugu to 88 degrees in Thousand Oaks.

In Simi Valley, it hit 86 degrees Monday. It touched 98 and 97 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Previous highs for those dates had been set in 1988 and 1967.

Bill Hoffer, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said the weekend's sweltering conditions were reminiscent of those in 1967.

"They had the same high pressure area," he said. "It was one of those superior highs that came in and hung around because there was nothing to push it out."

When Vaneyk, who is studying for his teaching credential, left his Ventura home around 10:30 a.m., he figured it would be hot in Ojai because he's lived most of his 36 years in Ventura County.

"This time of year, when it's foggy there, it's beautiful here," he said as he reclined in a chair perched comfortably upon a rock near a swimming hole off Maricopa Highway.

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In his lap sat a Harry Potter book and a cap that was doing very little to shield his face from the sun. Suddenly he jumped up and dove off the tall rock into the warm water beneath him. Koji, his canine companion, splashed in after him before the two headed back home so Vaneyk could get ready for class at Cal State Northridge's Camarillo campus.

Inside the Ojai Ice Cream parlor, a shop along Ojai Avenue, a steady stream of people filed up to the counter for their favorite coffee, sherbet or fat-free ice cream.

"The whole weekend we must have had many more people than normal because the ice cream buckets are so low," said Shelia Kneeland, scraping the bottom of one.

Lance and Quan Rushing, both 27 and from San Diego, stopped their bicycles outside the ice cream parlor for a break from the midday heat. They were riding 140 miles from Ventura to Lake Casitas, then to Carpinteria and El Capitan State Beach in Santa Barbara County and back.

"It's a little early in the season for this type of heat," Lance said. "What this means for us is that we have to get started earlier each morning to avoid the heat."

Across the county, Tim Dailey was working the outdoor mesquite grill at Thousand Oaks Meat Locker and was taking the scorching heat in stride.

Dailey, who has worked at the popular lunch spot for 36 years, propped up portable fans nearby to blast smoke and heat away from his face and onto Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

"Whew, it's hot," said Dailey, as he flipped some baby back ribs. "And the fans can only do so much."

Still, the 54-year-old Canyon Country resident said cooking during Monday's heat wasn't as bad it can get. Come July, Dailey said, he adds a bucket of cold water and towel compresses to the mix for a makeshift air conditioner.

Meanwhile, on the boardwalk near the Ventura Pier, three women from Richmond, Va., complained about the coastal fog.

"I thought it would be warm and sunny hot out here," said Gay Large. "But we went out on the pier this morning and nearly froze to death."

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Meteorologist Bruce Rockwell said the hot inland and foggy coast combination is not unusual for Ventura County. He said high pressure compresses the air, which combines with sunlight to create sauna-like conditions. When the sea breezes blow inland, the temperatures cool off, he said.

Rockwell said today should be cooler, with temperatures in the 80s inland and falling by the end of the week to the high 60s. By Memorial Day weekend, temperatures in the 80s and 90s should return, he said.

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Times Community News reporter Katie Cooper contributed to this story.

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