L.A.’s hottest day ever

How hot was it? The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice’s ther­mome­ter down­town reached 113 de­grees — and then stopped work­ing.

Los Angeles Times - - Front Page - Bob Pool and Rong-Gong Lin II

It was so hot Mon­day that it broke the all-time record — and the weath­er­man’s ther­mome­ter.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice’s ther­mome­ter for down­town Los An­ge­les headed into un­charted ter­ri­tory at 12:15 p.m. Mon­day, reach­ing 113 de­grees for the first time since records be­gan be­ing kept in 1877.

Shortly af­ter that ban­ner moment, how­ever, the tem­per­a­ture dipped back to 111, and then climbed back to 112. Then at 1 p.m., the ther­mome­ter stopped work­ing.

The weather ser­vice of­fice in Ox­nard rushed an elec­tron­ics tech­ni­cian 60 miles south­east to the USC cam­pus to re­pair the ther­mome­ter, which is ac­tu­ally a highly sen­si­tive wire con­nected to elec­tronic equip­ment.

Be­cause of the snafu, of­fi­cials said it’s pos­si­ble Mon­day’s tem­per­a­ture ac­tu­ally was hot­ter than 113 — but they might never know.

For me­te­o­rol­o­gists who cover a re­gion some­times mocked for its lack of weather, the record was met with great ex­cite­ment. They fig­ured it would be hot, with the mer­cury hit­ting around 108 or 109, but they didn’t quite ex­pect that an all-time record would be topped.

Down­town L.A. was not the only place that set records.

Long Beach tied an all­time record of 111. Other cities didn’t break all-time records but reg­is­tered new highs for the day. They in­clude Bur­bank (110), Wood-


land Hills (111), Ox­nard (100), El Ca­jon (109) and In­dio (109).

It wasn’t lost on weather afi­ciona­dos that the record heat came af­ter a sum­mer of record low tem­per­a­tures.

“Five days ago, we saw some of the low­est day­time tem­per­a­tures we’ve seen in 50 years. And to­day was a once-in-a-cen­tury day,” said Bill Patzert, a cli­ma­tol­o­gist at NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory in La Cañada Flin­tridge.

“So any­body that thinks South­ern Cal­i­for­nia doesn’t have weather, we def­i­nitely have had a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion by Mother Na­ture in the last five days.”

You didn’t have to tell that to folks in down­town Los An­ge­les. Those un­lucky enough to ven­ture out­side dur­ing the noon hour were try­ing not to sweat over their moment in his­tory.

“It’s 113? I be­lieve it. I feel it,” said side­walk sweeper Nathaniel Ste­wart as he pushed his broom along Los An­ge­les Street.

“I’ve never been this hot, and I’ve been here 32 years,” said Ste­wart, who cleans walk­ways in a pro­gram op­er­ated by down­town Los An­ge­les’ Chrysalis En­ter­prises. “I’m try­ing to stay in the shade as much as I can. But there isn’t a lot of shade along here.”

Far­ther down the street, Nick Sza­met was sit­ting in­side the Ground­works cof­fee house nurs­ing a cup of cof­fee. Hot cof­fee. “It’s the ‘Bitch’s Brew,’ ” said Sza­met, a High­land Park res­i­dent who works in the mayor’s of­fice at City Hall. “I al­ways like my cof­fee hot.”

Frank Chavez, a waiter who lives in Lit­tle Tokyo, in­ter­rupted a noon­time er­rand to duck into a res­tau­rant at the Ja­panese Vil­lage Plaza to ask for a cup of ice wa­ter. “They know it’s hot. They were very po­lite,” he said as he sipped the wa­ter.

Afew steps away, Hwashik Bong and three friends crowded un­der a large um­brella as they hastily de­voured ice cream cones.

“You have to eat it fast in weather like to­day,” said Bong, a writer, as a mix of choco­late and vanilla dripped over his hand and onto the ground.

It was about 11 a.m. when the tem­per­a­ture hit 112 in down­town L.A., rais­ing ex­cite­ment at the Ox­nard of­fice that an all-time record would be bro­ken. Sci­en­tists ac­cel­er­ated their check­ing of the USC weather sta­tion. They don’t have a con­tin­u­ous feed of in­for­ma­tion and have to use a com­puter to dial into the sta­tion to check the tem­per­a­ture at a given time. So they be­gan to check it ev­ery cou­ple of min­utes.

“Ever since we saw it start get­ting close to the record, when it hit 111 or 112, we said, ‘We tied it. Let’s see if we beat it,’ ” said weather spe­cial­ist Stu­art Seto. “We were watch­ing it, go­ing from 111 to 112 to 113.”

The pre­vi­ous all-time high­est tem­per­a­ture in down­town L.A. was recorded on June 26, 1990.

But Mon­day’s tem­per­a­ture at 12:15 p.m. in down­town L.A. still doesn’t ex­ceed the all-time record for all of Los An­ge­les County. On July 22, 2006, peren­nial hot spot Wood­land Hills hit 119 de­grees.


Mon­day’s records cul­mi­nate a heat wave than be­gan Satur­day. The heat was pro­duced by a mus­cu­lar ridge of high pres­sure that an­chored it­self over South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Those con­di­tions com­bined with weak off­shore winds that grew hot­ter as they pushed from the desert to­ward the coast. As a re­sult, it was hot­ter in places like down­town, West Hollywood and Santa Mon­ica than in some typ­i­cally broil­ing in­land ar­eas.

With no ma­rine layer in sight, Santa Mon­ica hit 103. It was slightly cooler on the Orange County coast, with Hunt­ing­ton Beach reg­is­ter­ing a high of 92 and New­port Beach 87.

Con­di­tions are ex­pected to cool slightly Tues­day.

With the heat came height­ened fire dan­ger. It was about 110 in Thou­sand Oaks, where fire­fight­ers bat­tled a 25-acre brush fire off the 101 Free­way.

“At the time, it was so hot that waves of shim­mer­ing heat were ris­ing from the free­way,” said passerby Aleia Wolkins of Canoga Park, “The flames made it even hot­ter.”

A smaller brush fire was quickly ex­tin­guished ear­lier in the day in Ladera Heights.

The heat put pres­sure on South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s power grid, with util­i­ties urg­ing the pub­lic to con­serve. South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Edi­son re­ported 11,000 cus­tomers with­out power Mon­day evening in Santa Mon­ica, West Hollywood, Di­a­mond Bar, Al­ham­bra, Glendora and Rose­mead.

The heat prompted the L.A. County Metropoli­tan Tran­sit Author­ity to re­duce the speeds on some of its rail lines, caus­ing some de­lays.

Through­out the Los An­ge­les area, those who could stayed in­side air-con­di­tioned build­ings.

In the air-con­di­tioned con­fines of L.A. County Su­pe­rior Court down­town, a crisply suited Frank McCourt was keep­ing his cool on Day 10 of the trial be­tween him and his es­tranged wife, Jamie. “I’m feel­ing very com­fort­able,” McCourt said dur­ing a break in the pro­ceed­ings.

Sev­eral dozen pro­test­ers at a down­town march for im­mi­gra­tion re­form had no choice but to be out­doors.

Vic­tor Quin­tero, 23, sweat drip­ping from his head as he gath­ered with other ac­tivists in front of the Ron­ald Rea­gan State Build­ing, took a swig from his wa­ter bot­tle and laughed.

“It’s hot wa­ter!” he said. “It’s boil­ing hot wa­ter.”

Look­ing on was dress-shirt-clad Jim Root, a lawyer who works in the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice. “That’s com­mit­ment,” said Root of the pro­test­ers.

In Costa Mesa, Ken­neth Kaau­moana, 41, was among those stand­ing in a 20-minute line at a re­cy­cling cen­ter, hop­ing to col­lect a few bucks re­cy­cling plas­tic and glass.

Kaau­moana, who re­cently moved here from Kauai, where the is­land’s trade winds usu­ally make the hottest days bear­able, said the high tem­per­a­tures Mon­day made gath­er­ing glass and plas­tic from trash bins dif­fi­cult.

“It’s not re­ally a smart thing to do, I guess, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” he said of his dump­ster-div­ing.

Al Seib

LIQ­UID RE­LIEF: Jes­sica Ramirez, right, pulls friend Haydee Es­calante into the foun­tain at the Mu­sic Cen­ter in down­town Los An­ge­les, where the tem­per­a­ture reached 113 — down­town’s high­est since records be­gan be­ing kept in 1877. The pre­vi­ous high was 112, set in 1990.

Ge­naro Molina

NO SUN­BLOCK HERE: Michael Hig­gins, 64, works on his tan in L.A.’s Per­sh­ing Square. “It’s so hot I’ve had to put card­board un­der me,” he said.

Don Bartletti

COOL CON­TRAST: Pel­i­cans glide past surfers wait­ing for south­west swells at Swami’s Beach in San Diego County. While tem­per­a­tures in­land swelled to record highs, the ocean re­mained a fairly chilly 63 de­grees.

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