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Heat wave bears down on Southern California

July 16, 2010 |  4:12 pm

Southern California endured another scorching day Friday, with weather experts saying the heat wave will continue though Saturday night.

Temperatures were hitting the triple-digit mark in some inland areas. But there have been fewer of the lightning strikes and thunderstorms that hit Thursday. Two brush fires sparked by lightning Thursday continue to burn in Riverside County.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for Friday through Saturday night in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The air is expected to feel both hot and humid, said Mike Wofford, a weather service meteorologist.

A strong high-pressure system from the desert southwest has left a hot air mass sitting over the area, which is expected to push temperatures upwards of 100 degrees, he said.

Tropical moisture in the air will cause humidity, he said. Wofford predicted temperatures could reach close to record temperatures this weekend. The record for downtown Los Angeles was 96 degrees for July 16, but the temperatures by Friday afternoon were 93 degrees.

“We’re probably going to get close to some records, and maybe even break some, but it’s not going to be a situation where 30 records are broken,” Wofford said.

Temperatures are expected to cool off by a few degrees Sunday, he said. By Monday, temperatures will be more moderate in the 80s and 90s, he said. 

On Thursday, thunderstorms sparked brush fires and caused flash flooding and hail even as inland areas sweltered amid triple-digit temperatures and high humidity.

In Los Angeles County, a powerful afternoon thunderstorm struck the Antelope Valley as fire crews responded to dozens of incidents, including small brush fires and a rescue of two people trapped in mud after a heavy downpour, officials said.

In Riverside County, where more than a dozen brush fires erupted, three sheriff's deputies suffered minor injuries while they were rescuing a woman from a trailer as flames burned near homes in Lake Elsinore, officials said.

Multiple brush fires also broke out in San Diego County.

Click here for a list of Los Angeles city cooling centers.

-- My-Thuan Tran

Photo: Erik Sanchez cools off in the fountain at the East Los Angeles Civic Center. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times