LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An excessive heat warning went into a fourth day in most of the Southland today but conditions improved considerably along the L.A. County coast and in the city of Los Angeles.
However, while L.A. conditions improved, the excessive heat warning in effect in the rest of L.A. County was extended by a day and is now due to expire at 8 p.m. Friday.
Along the coast, a high surf advisory scheduled to have been in effect in L.A. and Orange counties until 9 p.m. Wednesday was extended until 8 a.m. today.
The National Weather Service first downgraded the excessive heat advisory along the coast, in beach cities, metropolitan Los Angeles, the Downtown area, and the Hollywood Hills, converting it into a less serious heat advisory. But at 9 a.m., it canceled that as well, saying in a statement that a deeper marine layer has developed and cooler temperatures are now expected closer to the ocean.
The extended excessive heat warning is in effect in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, San Gabriel and Antelope valleys, both the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains and inland Orange County. Overnight low temperatures have offered little reprieve from the heat, ranging from 66-76 degrees.
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 in a statement, adding there's also an increased potential for power outages and wildfires.
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, he 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 www.lacounty.gov/heat 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.
The NWS forecast partly cloudy skies in L.A. County today and highs of 78 in Avalon; 79 at LAX; 84 in Long Beach; 89 in Downtown L.A.; 92 on Mount Wilson; 96 in San Gabriel; 97 in Burbank; 98 in Pasadena; 106 in Saugus and Woodland Hills; and 108 in Palmdale and Lancaster.
Sunny skies were forecast in Orange County, along with highs of 77 in San Clemente; 80 in Newport Beach; 81 in Laguna Beach; 90 in Anaheim and Irvine; 91 in Fullerton; 92 in Mission Viejo; and 95 in Yorba Linda.
Temperatures will remain roughly at today's levels until at least Wednesday.
Photo: Getty Images