LOS ANGELES — While parts of the country are still feeling winter's chill, Southern California is headed into an overheated weekend with record-breaking temperatures that suggest next week's arrival of spring may be a footnote in a region already looking at summer.
Here are five things you need to know:
Unfortunately for thousands of runners, the heat coincides with Sunday's annual Los Angeles Marathon. The start time has been moved up by a half-hour to 6:55 a.m. Runners also will have access to ice, cold towels, misting stations and even "cooling buses."
While the Hurricane Harbor water park north of Los Angeles doesn't open until May, the adjacent Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park does have a few water rides. Those are expected to be especially popular this weekend as thrill-seekers descend on the park, said spokeswoman Sue Carpenter. "We're open, we're excited, we're loving the weather," she said.
Summer-like crowds are expected along the shore. As a result, Los Angeles County lifeguard staffing will be at levels more commonly seen in June, said Capt. Kenichi Haskett. "Water temperatures are fluctuating between 60 and 63 degrees, for anyone who wants to go swimming," he said. Good luck finding parking.
Some areas could see temperatures spike 20 degrees above normal for the period. The mercury Friday rose into the upper 80s to low 90s, breaking or tying records up and down the coast. The predicted 90-degree high for downtown Los Angeles on Saturday is expected to beat a record for the date of 88 that was set in 1951, according to the National Weather Service.
City of Orange residents Dolores DeMay and her son, Robert Seymour, were loading groceries into their car at a Trader Joe's market and bemoaned the heat Friday. The temperature in their car read 92 degrees and a hot Santa Ana wind was gusting.
"I got up this morning and as soon as I got up, I closed up the whole house and turned in the air conditioning," said DeMay, who wore a sleeveless summer dress and sunglasses.
"The humidity is so low and it just screws with everything. This is when it is supposed to be wet and we're supposed to be getting rain."
The heat arrived with gusty, witheringly dry Santa Ana winds that originate inland and blow toward the coast, pushing back the normal cool and moist influence of the Pacific Ocean. Drivers have been warned to use caution in the mountains, where gusts topped 50 mph. Winds will steadily decline as temperatures rise over the weekend.