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Santa Monica Welcomes First Day of Summer with Big Beach Crowds
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

June 21, 2016 -- The first day of summer 2016 arrived Monday for Santa Monica with bigger- than- usual crowds at the beach, as inland Southern California fled the final baking blast of yet another heat wave, this one breaking new records.

About 300,000 visitors escaped life in the inland’s furnace to hit the beach in Santa Monica on Saturday and Sunday, said Spencer Parker, a spokesperson for the lifeguard division of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

No final figures were available yet for Monday’s crowd, he said, but it was much bigger than usual, even for the first day of summer.

All of the county’s more than 150 lifeguard towers were staffed as the heat wave continued, he said, and every visitor was asked to check with lifeguards for potential hazards -- particularly rip currents -- before venturing into the water.

“We’re prepared and ready to go,” Parker said.

Those who plan to swim near the pier should make sure to stay at least 100 yards from the structure, or the approximate distance between lifeguard stations, according to Heal the Bay officials, who gave the waters around the pier an F grade in this year's report card ("Santa Monica Pier Makes Beach Bummer List," may 27, 2016).

Temperatures began rising over the weekend inland, hitting triple-digits on Sunday with readings reaching 115 degrees in Burbank and 100 degrees in Long Beach and Simi Valley.

The Westside’s Getty Center reached 103 degrees, lagging behind Pasadena, Lancaster and Ojai, where temperatures hit 106 degrees.

The mercury continued climbing Monday, prompting the issuing of a Flex Alert for Southern California consumers that urged them to conserve electricity -- including the use of indoor air conditioning. It was the first such alert since 2011.

Forecasters said temperatures would drop significantly by Tuesday in the hottest spots inland, although excessive heat was expected to remain in the Southland overall, forecasters said.

Southern California handled life in the furnace as it often does: By cooling off at the beach.

Santa Monica’s temperature hovered in the 80s, and Parker said the ocean waters were in the high 60 degrees. He said the water was mostly flat, but that there were still about a hundred rescues over the weekend, most of them of people caught in rip currents.

No fatalities were reported in Santa Monica’s waters as of late Monday, but Parker said visitors still need to remember how deadly rip currents can be. Fairly common in Santa Monica’s beach waters, rip currents are linked to an average of 46 drowning deaths each year in the U.S.

Lifeguards offered the following advice:

Try to stay calm in a rip current, don’t swim against them but escape by swimming in a direction parallel to the shore. If that fails, tread water until the current weakens and then swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore. Face the shore and call or wave for help.

And never swim alone, lifeguards officials said.

This newest heat wave was blamed for some power outages reported by Southern California Edison.

More than 3,000 customers were reported without power in Los Angeles County, and more than 2,000 customers faced power outages in Orange County.

More than a dozen temperature records were broken during the weekend, some set decades ago. Cities including Burbank, Palm Springs, Indio, Riverside, El Cajon, Chula Vista and Santa Ana suffered the highest temperatures of the weekend, the National Weather Service reported.

On Monday, Palm Springs and Thermal were expected to reach highs of 122 degrees.

Dozens of “cooling stations” were set up by Southern California Edison in community centers, libraries, senior citizen centers and other buildings throughout Los Angeles County.

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