Hot Weather Forecast As West Coast Pressure Cooker Returns

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An excessive heat warning scheduled to last through Thursday went into its second day today amid health concerns, especially for the very young and seniors, and a call for voluntary electricity conservation.

The hottest days of the heat wave are expected to be today and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Overnight low temperatures will offer little reprieve from the heat, ranging from 66-76 degrees, and even the coast will sizzle.

The conditions will create ``increased potential for serious heat- related illnesses, especially for the young and elderly, those performing outdoor activities, as well as those without access to air conditioning,” the NWS warned.

The heat wave will also create an increased potential for power outages because of the widespread use of air-conditioning, prompting the California Independent System Operator Corporation to issued a statewide Flex Alert that calls for voluntary electricity conservation from 5-9 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Southern California residents were urged to take steps to protect themselves from the conditions, scheduling strenuous activities for the coolest part of the day -- in the morning or evening -- wearing lightweight and light- colored clothing and drinking plenty of water.

NWS forecasters also stressed that ``young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. This is especially true during warm or hot weather when car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.” The warning also covers seniors.

Health officials also warned against leaving children or the elderly alone at home without air conditioning.

``Extreme heat such as this is not just an inconvenience, it can be dangerous and even deadly,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, Los Angeles County's interim health officer.

Even a few hours of exertion can cause severe hydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the doctor said.

Frail individuals or those with chronic health problems are particularly at risk and Gunzenhauser urged residents to make sure that elderly or infirm neighbors without air conditioning get to a cooling center or other air-conditioned space during the day.

A map of cooling centers can be found at or residents may call 211.

``While it is very important that everyone take special care of themselves, it is equally important that we reach out to those who are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of extreme heat, including children, the elderly and their pets,” Gunzenhauser said.

Pets should not be left out in the sun or in garages, which are typically uninsulated and can reach extremely high temperatures.

The excessive heat warning is in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday along the L.A. County coast, in beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles, downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Hills; the San Gabriel, San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys; the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains; and inland Orange County, where highs will range from the mid 90s to 104. Also in effect is a less serious heat advisory scheduled to expire in Orange County at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Along the coast, a high surf advisory will be in force in L.A. and Orange counties until 9 p.m. Wednesday. Surf of 4-7 feet is expected through Wednesday night in L.A and Ventura counties, with maximum sets to 9 feet. In Orange County, surf of 5-8 feet is expected.

Swimming conditions along the coast will be dangerous due to the high surf, forecasters said.

``There is an increased risk for ocean drowning,” an NWS statement warned. `` Rip currents can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea. Large breaking waves can cause injury, wash people off beaches and rocks, and capsize small boats near shore.”

The National Weather Service forecast Tuesday afternoon highs of 86 degrees at LAX; 89 in Avalon; 94 in Long Beach and on Mount Wilson; 96 in downtown L.A.; 100 in San Gabriel; 102 in Pasadena; 103 in Burbank; 108 in Palmdale and Lancaster; 109 in Woodland Hills; and 110 in Saugus.

In Orange County, the NWS forecast highs of 81 in San Clemente; 82 in Laguna Beach; 83 in Newport Beach; 96 in Irvine; 98 in Anaheim and Mission Viejo; and 100 in Yorba Linda and Fullerton.

Temperatures will remain at roughly the same temperatures through Thursday, then begin to slowly retreat.

Photo: Getty Images

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