Extreme heat will continue through Friday

SAN DIEGO - A record-setting heat wave that has caused San Diego County to swelter is expected to continue Thursday and persist through Friday night.

The period of extended hot weather, which began Monday and reached its peak Wednesday, could push temperatures into the low-80s near the coast, mid 90s in the inland valleys and mountains, and up to the high 110s in the local deserts, according to the National Weather Service.

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Though the peak of the heat wave was expected to be over, an NWS excessive-heat warning will remain in effect in the county through Friday at 9 p.m. The heat wave was originally expected to break Thursday night.

The warning lasts through Friday at midnight for the county deserts.

In Campo, the top thermometer reading of 108 exceeded the back-country town's old record of 104 for the date, set in 1959, the NWS reported. Ramona's high matched its existing milestone high of 101, set on July 25, 1977.

Authorities urge the public to avoid potential health hazards by drinking plenty of water or other non-alcoholic fluids, seeking out shady and air-conditioned environments and checking on relatives and neighbors -- particularly the elderly or home-bound people -- to ensure they are coping with the heat.

In addition, young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles during hot weather, when car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes, officials warn.

A list of local public "cool zones" can be found at http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/hhsa/programs/ais/cool_zones/.

Although the strong high-pressure system is expected to weaken slightly over the weekend, temperatures will remain above average for this time of year, except near the beaches and at the highest local mountain areas, forecasters said.