Californians sweat, frolic, surf in record heat wave (Feature)
By Andy Goldberg Sep 29, 2010, 3:53 GMT
Los Angeles - Electrical transformers blew up. Wildfires ignited spontaneously. Children frolicked in fountains. And bars sprayed cold mist on their outdoor customers.
Those were some of the scenes Tuesday in Los Angeles as the city famous for its year-round warm weather sweltered under a record- breaking heatwave that came out of the blue.
For much of the summer, coastal Californians have been bundling up as a persistent blanket of marine fog contributed to one of the coolest summers on record.
But the bikinis and board shorts have been plucked from the closet in recent days as withering heat blasted California from San Diego in the south to the north past San Francisco.
It's not just hot for late September. Los Angeles is seeing temperatures that put its highest summer heat in the shade.
On Monday afternoon in LA's sweltering downtown, the mercury on thermometers reached an eye-popping 113 degrees Fahrenheit - 45 degrees centigrade - in what the National Weather Service said was the highest temperature ever recorded in the area since record keeping began in 1877.
It was so hot that the sensitive equipment that used by National Weather Service scientists to accurately measure the temperature broke down, and the temperatures could have climbed even higher, a spokesman said.
Angelenos practiced several strategies for dealing with the unbearable heat. Chief among these was to stay inside air-conditioned homes, offices, malls and schools.
'It was actually good for me,' said Sasha Margolis, a psychology student at UCLA. 'I spent the whole day studying in the library rather than goofing off and hanging out with friends.'
Reliance on modern cooling came with a cost. With peak demand straining the electrical grid, 27,000 customers lost power as transformers carrying current to baking Los Angeles neighbourhoods overheated because of high demand in the unprecedented temperatures.
Those who were forced to brave the outdoors adopted low-technology methods for beating the heat. Many dusted off the umbrellas usually reserved for LA's rare days of rain to shield themselves from the wilting sunshine.
Staff at coffee shops and ice cream parlours could barely keep up with the surge in demand, and mothers and fathers joined their kids to frolic in the city's fountains. Unfortunately, the LA's public pools had already shut down until next summer.
There was plenty of action at beaches up and down the state.
Surfing types in northern California were especially delighted at the soaring temperatures. They usually have to wear wet suits year round because the Pacific Ocean there is usually frigid due to an Alaskan current that flows down half the length of California.
But on Tuesday, surfers braved the usually chilly surf with nothing more than swim shorts and sunscreen to protect them from the elements.
'It's like Hawaii dude,' said surfer Jesse Osbourne at a beach in Santa Cruz. 'I wish it was like this every day.'