Remnants of Hurricane Lane, sitting 550 miles off the coast, still had enough force Tuesday to generate 10- to 12-foot breakers that pounded south-facing beaches, giving skilled surfers summer's last hurrah.
Pat Murphy of Manhattan Beach awoke early after speculating all night about where the surf might hit and joined more than 200 spectators at Newport Beach's famed Newport Point off 18th Street.
As people oohed and aahed, Murphy's cellular phone rang. "Dude, how is it?" asked a friend.
"There's definitely some good waves but everybody from [championship surfer] Shane Beschen to his brother is out. It's definitely the place to be," Murphy said.
Even though Lane had been downgraded to a tropical storm, it still provided the best waves of summer and inspired even top professional surfers and their entourages to grab waves from Malibu to San Clemente.
"These are the best waves we've had all summer," said pro surfer Dan Nichols, 21, of Huntington Beach, with a cameraman accompanying him to the water's edge to tape his morning session.
"I need to be photographed to help my sponsors out with ad and promo shots because they provide me with my surfboards and wetsuits. It's my job," Nichols said, pointing to his surfboard, which is emblazoned with decals of sponsors ranging from an Australian shoe manufacturer to a local surf shop.
The National Weather Service said Southern California was broiling under a hot sun that had temperatures hovering around 100 degrees. The mercury peaked at 99 in downtown Los Angeles at 11 a.m., but kept climbing in the surrounding valleys, reaching 103 in Pasadena and Woodland Hills, 104 in Van Nuys, 106 in Riverside, 109 in Palm Springs and 112 in Thermal. Fullerton Airport topped out at 98 degrees, and temperatures in coastal cities were in the mid-90s.
The former hurricane, off the coast at San Diego, weakened as it headed west Monday. But it still had winds gusting to 75 mph, the hurricane threshold, said Chad Pettera, a meteorologist for WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times.
Hot, sticky weather will continue today under partly cloudy skies. Temperatures along the coast will be in the mid-70s, but near 100 in the inland valleys, Pettera said. Lane's remnants will also increase humidity to more than 30% today, but with no chance of rain, he said.
Along the coast, larger waves increase the likelihood of dangerous rip currents. But lifeguards said they had been fortunate because Lane arrived in the middle of the week and after Labor Day.
"If it had been a week ago on Labor Day weekend, we'd have set the weekend mark for a large number of surf rescues," said Newport Beach Lifeguard Capt. Jim Turner. "But there were just not that many inexperienced people in the water, and we've only had a couple of rescues."
Only Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, which reported waves in the 6-to-8-foot range, got the brunt of the storm's swells.
Los Angeles County lifeguards reported surf at 2 to 4 feet in Malibu and at Zuma Beach.
Waves were even smaller at Venice and Santa Monica, and at San Diego beaches to the south.
"Sometimes the angle of these Mexican hurricanes is just so south that they go right by us," said San Diego Lifeguard Chief Chris Brewster. "[The storm] needs to move out to sea more. Unless the hurricane travels more westward, we just don't get it here."
The unusual swell direction produced some oddities, such as 10-foot surf in Seal Beach on Monday night and head-high surf in normally placid Long Beach.
Times staff writer Erin Texeira contributed to this story.