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Third Day Of Record Heat Sends Thousands to Beaches

March 27, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Hundreds of thousands of people inundated beaches Saturday as the third day of record heat scorched Southern California, while authorities guarded against gang violence and brush fires.

The noon high of 93 degrees at Lindbergh Field in San Diego broke a mark for the day set in 1923. Inland areas of San Diego County had highs near 100 degrees.

A high of 100 was reported in the desert resort of Palm Springs 100 miles east of Los Angeles, where the high of 98 broke the record for the date set in 1986.

The National Weather Service blamed northeasterly winds caused by a high pressure system over Western states reversing the usual flow of cooling ocean breezes for Southern California. Instead, the hot winds blew out of the desert.

Heat records were also set in Arizona, where the reading of 100 in Phoenix broke the record for the date by seven degrees, and a reading of 99 in Tucson topped the record for the date there by 10 degrees.

California forecasters predicted temperatures would drop to the 70s on Sunday as a front brought cooler marine air.

In Palm Springs, an estimated 50,000 young people on spring break dressed for the weather, wearing ″bathing suits, shorts, tanks tops, as little as possible,″ said police Officer Karen Holtz. ″They all seem to hover around the yogurt places and ice cream places. I don’t blame them.″

An estimated 200,000 people swarmed to Zuma and Santa Monica beaches to splash in 62-to-64-degree water, but surfers had to make do with 2-foot swells.

″It’s just a full-out summer day,″ said lifeguard Capt. Don Rohrer at Santa Monica.

By early afternoon, there already had been several rescues, including a person who was taken to a hospital for a possibly serious neck or spine injury, he said. Rohrer estimated there would be up to 50 rescues for the day.

″The only thing that’s saving us right now is favorable tide conditions,″ he said. ″If the rips (riptides) were pulling a little stronger, we’d probably have well over 100.″

On Friday night, three people were hospitalized after more than 20 gang members got into a scuffle at Dockweiler State Beach, near Los Angeles International Airport.

At Zuma Beach in the Malibu area, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were called in Friday night to quell a fight involving 300 youths.

The situation was under control Saturday, said Zuma lifeguard Glen DuPont.

″There is a large force of sheriffs (deputies) here, and that is a wonderful deterrent,″ he said.

Those who opted to stay home and use their air conditioners sent power usage soaring, but not to the record heights reached a day earlier. Spokesmen for the Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric companies said the power drain was less because many businesses were closed for the weekend.

Not everyone was relaxing, however.

In San Diego, city firefighters continued to mop up a 100-acre brushfire near Lake Hodges, where one firefighter was treated Friday for heat exhaustion.

″We’ve got a lot of hot spots. If the wind were to spring up, we might lose it,″ said a fire dispatcher who declined to identify herself. ″They’re up there practically stomping it out by hand.″

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