San Gabriel Valley braces for heatwave and high fire danger

With the spring daffodils barely gone, Southern California braced Wednesday for a weeklong blast of triple-digit temperatures and heightened fire danger across the region.

And when the weather year ends Monday, Los Angeles expects to tally its sixth driest year on record.

“This is definitely the first protracted heat wave of the season,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “And it’s come early.

“On one side of the country, it’s raining and stormy. And the other, bone dry with extreme heat. And the pattern is supposed to hold for a week.”

Forecasters said a massive high-pressure system that has eclipsed much of the West is expected to increase temperatures by up to 10 degrees per day through the weekend before gradually tapering off by Thursday. In the meantime, the East Coast faces massive storms and floods.

As unseasonal wildfires have burned throughout the West, the early summer heat wave precedes the prolonged heat incidents normally seen in late summer or fall.

“It’s going to be a significant heat wave of the season,” said David Sweet, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “I think the fire danger is significant, in near-critical conditions” — but not quite dry enough to issue a red-flag warning, he said.

The weather service issued an excessive heat warning from the Inland Empire to the low desert, where the mercury Saturday was expected to hit 97 degrees in Ontario, 102 in San Bernardino and a smoking 117 degrees in Palm Springs.

An excessive heat watch was also issued beginning Friday for mountains across the Southland, where lower elevations were expected to reach 108 degrees and record temperatures up into the 90s at higher altitudes.

Read more in HOT.

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