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At 113 degrees, downtown L.A. hits all-time record high [Updated]

September 27, 2010 |  1:24 pm

It's not just you. Monday turned out to be the hottest day ever recorded -- at least in downtown L.A.

At 12:15 p.m., the weather station at USC hit the 113-degree mark, breaking the old all-time high of 112 set on June 26, 1990.

It makes Monday the hottest day ever since records in downtown L.A. started being kept in 1877, said Stuart Seto of the National Weather Service.

Seto said the record was impressive, "especially after such a cool summer."

Shortly after reaching the record, the temperature dipped back to 111, and then climbed back to 112. Then at 1 p.m., the thermometer stopped working.

The weather service office in Oxnard rushed an electronics technician 60 miles southeast to the USC campus to repair the thermometer, which is actually a highly sensitive wire connected to electronic equipment. Because of the snafu, officials said it's possible Monday's temperature actually was hotter than 113 — but they might never know.

As of noon, Weather.com reported that Santa Monica had hit 106, West Hollywood was at 111, and Long Beach was at 107. 

The National Weather Service warned of extreme heat and red-flag fire dangers Monday. A small fire broke out in Ladera Heights but was quickly put out. Another small brush fire was contained Sunday night in South Pasadena. 

On the energy front, California consumers were expected to use more than 45,000 megawatts by peak afternoon hours, said Gregg Fishman, a spokesman for Cal-ISO, which coordinates power for 85% of the state's grid. 

Though the expected energy consumption was high for this time of year, increased usage was not expected to cause any serious problems, Fishman said. Still, Cal-ISO is recommending residents avoid using large appliances in the afternoon.

And don't forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room, Fishman said.

"Given the situation as we know it right now, we should be fine,'' he said. "But grid conditions are dynamic, and things can change."

[Updated at 2:05 p.m.: The extreme heat was being felt across the region.

The Los Angeles Unified School District canceled all outdoor activities for Monday because of excessive heat. With temperatures well past 100 degrees in the West San Fernando Valley, football coaches are switching practices to the gym or using the time for video sessions.

At a recycling center across the street from the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen in Costa Mesa, Kenneth Kaaumoana, 41, was among those standing in line, hoping to collect a few bucks for plastic and glass.

Kaaumoana said he had just moved to the area from Kauai, where the island’s trade winds usually make the hottest days bearable.

"Yeah, it was really hot in there," he said of wading into trash bins in search of recyclables. "It’s not a really a smart thing to do, I guess, but you gotta do what you gotta do."

Bare-chested and wearing board shorts, Kaaumoana said he hoped to make $4 or $5, enough for bus fare to Laguna Beach, where it would be cooler and a possible job laying floors awaited.

Hot weather or not, he said he planned to grab a free bowl of soup at the kitchen before heading to Laguna. "Times are tough," he said.

Downtown, Dennis King, a 50-year-old L.A. native, was trying to keep things in perspective. "For autumn here in L.A., it’s definitely hot, but this will pass. It’s really not like this at this time of year. Californians will complain if there’s a cloud in the sky."

In Venice, Neal Woods said he took a break from his job as a Hollywood prop man and went surfing Monday afternoon.

"It was nice day to spend in the water," Woods said as he sat on Venice Pier after a 90-minute session riding the waves.

The water temperature was in the low 60s, but Woods said he was able to take advantage of the warm air and not wear a wetsuit. Asked whether he was supposed to be working, he said: "I didn't call in sick. I'm just not working. ]

-- Catherine Saillant, Nathan Jackson, Eric Sondheimer, Robert J. Lopez, Bob Pool and Mike Anton

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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Photos: Hottest day in L.A. ever … since 1877, anyway