LANCASTER – Temperatures will climb above normal as a heat wave grips the region, creating “elevated fire danger” and serious health risks for such vulnerable residents as children and the elderly.
The temperature climb that began Wednesday will continue Thursday, Friday and through the weekend, with the “hottest conditions” expected Saturday and Sunday, when temperatures will be between 5 and 10 degrees above normal, said a National Weather Service statement.
“During this time, maximum temperatures for… the valleys and the desert will be 100-107 degrees,” the statement said.
Thursday’s highs were expected to be in the low 100s in the Antelope Valley.
“The hot conditions will result in an increased risk of heat-related illnesses, especially for the homeless, elderly, infants, outdoor workers and those participating in outdoor activities. The extended period of hot and dry conditions will also bring elevated fire danger,” said the NWS statement.
But no immediate red flag warnings were expected, given the absence of strong winds and exceedingly low humidity, forecasters said.
Humidity was a healthy 55 percent in Burbank after midnight though likely to fall to between 10 and 20 percent in the region during the day Thursday, NWS meteorologist Dave Bruno said in a telephone interview from his monitoring station in Oxnard.
And no strong winds were immediately expected, except in the Antelope Valley, the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway corridor, and Santa Barbara county, he said.
The heat wave, resulting from high pressure over the region, will show signs of retreat on Monday, but “temperatures will remain above normal in most places,” followed by more cooling on Tuesday, the NWS statement said.
In the meantime, local residents should take steps to protect themselves from the potentially harmful conditions, urged the NWS, stressing that children, the elderly and pets should never be left in parked vehicles in the heat. A graphic on an NWS website indicated that if the outside temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it can climb to 99 inside a parked vehicle within 10 minutes.
The NWS issued these recommendations:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wear light-colored and lightweight clothing.
- Stay out of the midday sun.
- Provide shade and water for livestock and pets.
- Check on neighbors and the elderly.
The recommendation to check on people who could be vulnerable appeared particularly pressing, given the tragedy in France in 2003, when a heat wave killed more than 14,800 people, mostly the elderly, many with relatives away on vacation.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health declared a heat alert for the San Fernando and eastern San Gabriel valleys.
“When temperatures are high, even a few hours of exertion may cause severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer. “Others who are frail or have chronic health conditions may develop serious health problems leading to death if they are exposed to high temperatures over several days.”
County officials also urged people with no access to air conditioners to take advantage of cooling centers to escape the heat. A list of cooling centers is available online at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.
Utilities, meanwhile, urged residents to conserve energy. Officials at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said customers should especially try to cut back on power use between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“During times of extreme heat, we strongly encourage customers to conserve energy wherever possible as long as it does not jeopardize anyone’s own health or safety or the health and safety of their pets,” DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said.
DWP officials said they expect power demand to be about 5,200 megawatts in the city of Los Angeles today, compared to the usual summer average of 4,700 megawatts.
To help conserve energy, DWP officials recommended:
- Adjusting thermostats to 78 degrees.
- Limiting the use of appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers during peak hours.
- Closing drapes and blinds.
- Turning off lights in rooms not being used.
- Unplugging devices that can use energy even when they’re not being used, such as cell phone chargers, DVD players and microwave ovens.
- Ventilating homes by opening windows and doors to allow cooler air to circulate.
The NWS forecast sunny skies Thursday and highs of 100 in Palmdale and 101 in Lancaster. Similar temperatures are expected Friday.