Heat wave expected to set more records Saturday


Beach in San Diego

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SAN DIEGO -- Extra lifeguards were on hand Saturday as the record-setting heat wave in San Diego County sweltered through its second day, and residents and visitors headed to the beaches en masse.

The unseasonable heat Saturday set at least one temperature record by late afternoon. The mercury climbed to 90 degrees at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, crushing the prior 83-degree high for this date, set in 1951, the National Weather Service said.

Highs of 84 to 89 degrees were forecast Saturday for areas along the coast, 89 to 94 degrees inland and in the western valleys, 81 to 86 degrees near the foothills, 71 to 79 in the mountains and 87 to 92 degrees in the deserts.

San Diego lifeguard Lt. Rich Stropky said about two dozen seasonal lifeguards were brought in for the busy weekend, which also marked the start of spring breaks for some out of town schools.

Surf of about 2 to 3 feet wasn't expected to produce large waves, but rip currents in the unusually warm water -- in the low 60s -- could cause problems, he said.

Stropky said lifeguards were always on the lookout, but the extra staff allowed them to reach people in need faster.

He asked beachgoers who venture into the water and who are not exceptionally strong swimmers to wear safety apparel.

“Personal flotation devices are critical, especially when it gets windy because people don't expect their board is going to be blown away from them,” Stropky said. “They can't get it and now they're left all alone.”

Stropky also asked swimmers, surfers and divers to avoid areas not patrolled by lifeguards, and to ask a lifeguard where trouble spots were.

“We love giving safety lectures on how to handle rip currents -- where they are, what they look like and what to do if you get caught in one,'' he said. Those caught in a rip current should swim parallel to the beach until they are free of the flow, he said.

On Friday, the high reading of 91 degrees in Chula Vista blasted past the previous March 13 milestone of 87, set in 1994, according to the National Weather Service. The thermometer hit 89 degrees in Escondido and San Diego, exceeding the cities' shared former high of 87.

Oceanside and Vista, meanwhile, each tallied 86, surpassing the old records of 77 in 1947 and 85 in 1994, and Alpine saw a high of 84, two degrees higher than the prior two-year-old record.

The temperatures also sent San Diegans to the beaches, keeping lifeguards busy.

On Friday, a 52-year-old man drowned in Mission Bay when the kayak he was riding in with two friends flipped over about 25 yards offshore from Ski Beach, San Diego police said.

Also Friday, a paddleboarder in Mission Bay was separated from his board and became unresponsive, Stropky said. It was unclear if the paddleboarder suffered from a medical issue beforehand.

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