Searing heat in Southern California sets temperature records

Excessive heat warnings will remain in place for the next few days as searing temperatures continue to roast much of Southern California, increasing the risk of bushfires and putting increasing strain on the state’s power grid.

Los Angeles County was bracing for daily highs of 110 degrees Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service, with the most extreme temperatures expected on Labor Day. As the worst heatwave of the year continues, officials are warning residents to remain vigilant and take steps to protect themselves.

As early as 1 p.m. on Sunday, record temperatures were set in some areas. In Ventura County, Oxnard reported a daily high of 101 degrees, beating the old record of 96 set in 1961. Camarillo reported a record high of 103, beating the old record of 93 set in 1961. Those numbers could go even higher. officials said.

Highs of between 105 and 110 degrees are expected Monday in much of the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys, as well as lower mountain communities like Acton and areas along Highway 14 and the lower corridors of Interstate 5, said Joe Sirard, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“Overall it looks like the peak today and tomorrow and then Tuesday and Wednesday will be a little cooler but still excessively hot,” Sirard said.

As California weathered another day of extreme heat, a statewide flex alert remained in place Sunday for the fifth straight day. Energy officials urged consumers to reduce their energy use between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to relieve the grid and avoid potential blackouts due to excessive demand.

“There is a widespread heat dome over much of the western United States,” Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services, said Sunday. “This brings several challenges to our state, the most significant of which are sustained high temperatures that pose a threat to our vulnerable communities across the state, increased fire risks and strain on our electrical grid.”

The persistently hot, dry conditions are a particular concern for firefighters across the state.

The mill and mountain fires in Siskiyou County, near the California-Oregon border, have already burned more than 10,000 acres, according to Cal Fire. The Mill Fire, which has burned more than 4,200 acres, is 25% contained, while the Mountain Fire, which has burned more than 6,400 acres, is only 5% contained.

In Los Angeles County, the Route fire, which began Wednesday in the Castaic area, has burned more than 5,200 acres and was 91% contained as of Sunday morning, according to Cal Fire.

The increasing threat of new wildfires prompted the Office of Emergency Services to initiate what Ferguson called the largest prepositioning event in state history and prepare fire engines, watercraft and other firefighting resources in 20 counties to respond quickly.

Jon Heggie, a battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire, said the goal is to put out most fires before they reach 10 acres.

“We want to detect fires quickly and put them out where they start,” he said. “We know these heat domes have been a problem in the past and if a fire does break out we want to be in position.”

Inland and valley areas are particularly vulnerable to the heat and the potential for fires.

The temperature in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley is expected to peak at 113 degrees on Sunday before falling to 111 degrees on Monday, Sirard of the National Weather Service said.

Lancaster is expected to hit 110 degrees on Sunday, rise to 112 or 113 degrees on Monday and stay at 110-112 degrees on Tuesday before dropping to 109 degrees on Wednesday, Sirad said.

Temperature extremes are still below LA County’s overall record of 120 degrees, set two years ago in Woodland Hills on Tuesday, he said.

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are advised to stay indoors or visit designated cooling centers. People should also cool their homes earlier in the day when the power grid is less busy and limit electricity use between 4pm and 9pm by avoiding using appliances.

Residents should also sign up for emergency alerts for their home counties, which include information about heat and fires, among other things.

“Be diligent with neighbors and friends and people who are at high risk of heat illness,” Ferguson said. “Check them, support them.” Searing heat in Southern California sets temperature records

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