Sweet Relief!

Southern California residents welcome the end of a record-breaking heat wave

September 29, 2010

A 90-degree day at the very end of September is hardly something to celebrate. But for residents of southern California, it's a real relief. Today's relatively cool temperature marks the end of a record-setting heat wave and signals that the high-pressure weather system that sparked it is starting to ease.

Too Hot to Measure

The temperature reached a record-breaking 113 degrees in Los Angeles on Monday. After that, the official thermometer stopped working. "It just kind of quit functioning," said National Weather Service forecaster Stuart Seto. "But the temperature had already peaked. . . We doubt that it went over 113."

Los Angeles began keeping weather records in 1877. The city's previous high temperature of 112 degrees was set on June 26, 1990.

Things were cooling down a bit by Tuesday, when the temperature reached 99 degrees. That's seven degrees below record-breaking, but still 17 degrees above normal. Temperatures are expected to top out around 90 degrees on Wednesday.

Pedestrians used umbrellas to block the sun. Commuters broke into a sweat even in the early morning—and just standing still. Schools cut back or cancelled outdoor activities. Tourists visiting Los Angeles were caught unprepared. "We had to buy new clothes," said Jenni Kinsey, visiting from Cardiff, Wales. "We thought it was going to be normal hot, but this is hotter than our country," said Dilia Rosada, visiting from the Dominican Republic.

Power Problems

On Monday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported its highest-ever demand for electricity. The demand caused transformers to overload and blowout. "Because we've had such hot nights, people are still running their air conditioners," says Vanessa McGrady, who works for Southern California Edison, a power company. "So the equipment really doesn't get a break."

On Tuesday morning, the heat wave had left more than 27,000 customers without power, and much-needed air conditioning. Crews worked round-the-clock to replace the broken equipment.


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