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Heat wave: It's 116 and rising in Palm Springs, Death Valley

June 29, 2013|By Joseph Serna and Shelby Grad

Temperatures across Southern California crashed through the triple-digit mark Saturday as a heat wave bore down on the region, leading by broiler conditions in the Coachella Valley and other desert locations.

As of noon, numerous valley areas had passed the century mark including Van Nuys, Chatsworth, Lancaster, Woodland Hills, Saugus and Acton. A little before 1 p.m., Palm Springs was already at 116 and climbing, according to the National Weather Service. Bylthe recorded 109 and Needles 114.

Death Valley -- one of several locations that could set new records this weekend -- was at 116 degrees. Accuweather predicted it would get to 127 later Saturday.

Downtown L.A. was slightly cooler at 88.

The heat wave was set to continue at least through Sunday.

In Los Angeles, the heat is a particular concern to firefighters because it comes in a year of record dry conditions that have already sparked several major brush fires in the area.

Fireworks also went on sale Friday in some areas, adding another fire danger. Fireworks are to be sold in 295 designated communities in the state through the Fourth of July.

Since January, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to about 2,900 fires, department spokesman Daniel Berlant said. In an average year, he said, it would have responded to fewer than 1,800 by this time.

Dry brush is being blamed for the increase in fires, Berlant said. He added that current weather conditions are more typical of late August or early September.

"We're in a long-term drought," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "The situation is extremely crispy and dry. That equals incendiary."

Several agencies opened cooling centers — air-conditioned facilities where the public can escape the heat — around Los Angeles County. For information about the centers, call 211, or view an interactive map of the centers online.

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