- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California’s heat wave has left tens of thousands of people without electricity.

Southern California Edison said more than 27,000 of its customers were without power Tuesday morning, mainly in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Most have been blacked out for eight to 16 hours as temperatures hit 113 degrees in some areas.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) reported another 15,000 customers are without power in Los Angeles.

Edison spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady said the heat has driven folks to use their air conditioners around the clock. She says transformers that usually cool down overnight are getting a workout and are blowing or burning out.

DWP spokeswoman Gale Harris said blown transformers appear to have caused most of the city outages and crews are working quickly to replace them.

The blistering fall heat wave broke records across the state Monday, including an all-time high of 113 degrees in downtown Los Angeles.

Downtown hit the record-high temperature for a few minutes at about 12:15 p.m. Monday, breaking the previous record of 112 degrees set on June 26, 1990, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist at the National Weather Service office in Oxnard. It was the hottest temperature recorded in downtown L.A. since record-keeping began in 1877.

As pedestrians waited to cross the street in downtown on Monday afternoon, they lined up diagonally to take advantage of just 6 inches of shade that a light pole cast on the radiating sidewalk.

Parking lot attendant Jorge Marin beckoned drivers into his lot with an orange flag and a song he knew from church.

“Like a ray of sun falling on me, it burns, how it burns,” he sang in Spanish.

Commuters broke a sweat just standing in the shade waiting for a bus. Women accessorized with umbrellas and parasols to hide from the heat.

The fall heat wave on Monday pushed temperatures well over 100 degrees from Anaheim, home of Disneyland, to San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Salinas on the usually balmy Central Coast. Many records were set or tied.

DWP recorded the highest-ever demand for electricity on Monday. The utility registered a peak demand of 6,177 megawatts, breaking a previous record of 6,165 megawatts from July 2006, DWP spokeswoman Gale Harris said.

As Mother Nature served up California in a roasting pan, some sought relief at the beaches, though fewer than over the weekend as the heat wave built.

“Because it’s Monday and it’s a school day, the crowd is a lot smaller, (but) it appears a lot of people aren’t going to work or school,” said Los Angeles County lifeguard Capt. Angus Alexander.

The National Weather Service said the siege of dry heat was being caused by a ridge of high pressure over the West that was keeping the Pacific Ocean’s normal moist and cool influence at bay.

Red flag warnings for fire danger were posted in some areas, but mostly because of the withering effect on vegetation alone rather than the dangerous combination of low humidity and offshore winds.

A small but persistent brush fire broke out Monday in Thousand Oaks west of Los Angeles, and about 200 firefighters in full gear carried heavy hoses up hills to douse the flames.

The early fall blast of intense heat follows an unusually cool summer that often found beaches covered in overcast and whipped by chilly winds.

The 113 registered in downtown Los Angeles would not be so remarkable in the populous inland valleys and deserts of Southern California — the highest temperature recorded in Los Angeles was 119 in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Woodland Hills on July 22, 2006 — but downtown’s highs are typically well below those areas.

“Usually there’s more of a sea breeze that moderates coastal (areas) and downtown,” said NWS meteorologist Eric Boldt.


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