Wednesday, July 4, 2007

California heat wave for July 4th holiday

LA Temperatures hit triple digits across valley and desert regions of Southern California on Tuesday, as weather forecasters predicted the first heat wave of the summer could produce record-setting heat later this week. The National Weather Service issued red flag fire alerts as well as an advisory for extreme heat for the second straight day, predicting that the heat wave could extend into the weekend.

Several weeks of triple-digit temperatures last summer killed more than 100 people around the state, most of them elderly residents of the Central Valley. Hoping to prevent a repeat this year, officials are opening "cooling centers" and urging neighbors and family members to check on elderly people.

…Beach lifeguards were bracing for trouble as warm coastal waters combined with unusually high surf and dangerous rip currents. The beaches were packed last weekend, and officials worry that crowds will only grow in the next few days. Laguna Beach lifeguards expect about 60,000 people today, with 75 lifeguards patrolling over the 18-hour holiday period.

…Even if there were no heat wave, Southern California fire officials would be on full alert. They say the combination of moisture-starved brush and excessive heat colliding with a holiday typically marked by fireworks could prove combustible. The region has already marked its driest rain season on record.

…Electricity providers were also on edge. A plane crashed into electrical wires in San Diego County on Tuesday, killing two people and adding to a loss of power-generating capacity that prompted operators of the state's power grid to call for statewide conservation. In Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power generated 5,300 megawatts of power to its customers, a record for the year.

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