As wildfires sweep Northern California, officials warn that Southern California will see heightened fire danger and record heat waves later this week — as well as hazardous ocean conditions on the Fourth of July and beyond.
"There's a lot going on there," said PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey. "It's a really good time to review safety. We have a risk of rip currents, risk of heat-related illness and a risk of wildfire."
On Monday morning, the National Weather Service issued a special weather statement warning of "very dangerous heat and elevated fire danger expected for much of southwestern California late this week into this weekend."
The area affected includes the Central Coast, Los Angeles County, the Channel Islands and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
Temperatures will remain normal until Thursday, when high temperatures will reach as high as 100 degrees, especially inland, the agency said. Additionally, gusty winds are forecast to develop around southern Santa Barbara County and the Interstate 5 corridor on Thursday night.
On Friday and Saturday, temperatures in inland valley locations will likely range between 100 and 112 degrees. The National Weather Service said they expect record-breaking temperatures on both days, with temperatures remaining warm at night.
Temperatures in Paso Robles in northern San Luis Obispo County are predicted to be 101 degrees on Friday, 102 on Saturday and 100 on Sunday — below records, but "anytime you're in triple-digits, it's hot," Lindsey said. "You've got to be careful about staying hydrated."
The extremely high temperatures, combined with forecasted winds and low humidity levels, will heighten fire danger across Southern California, and it could approach "critical levels," the agency said. The heat will also lead to a greater threat of heat stroke for people living in the area.
The agency issued an excessive heat watch that will be in effect from Friday until Saturday evening, citing an "increased potential for heat-related illnesses." The watch affects areas including San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
On hot days, the National Weather Service urges people to drink plenty of water, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, and to save strenuous activities for early morning or evening, when it's not as hot. People should also know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and should dial 911 in the event of heat stroke, the agency advises.
The NWS also said it expects to issue excessive heat watches and heat advisories as the week progresses.
And if you’re planning to go to the beach for Independence Day, beware the ocean: The National Weather Service also issued a Beach Hazards Statement that will be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 9 p.m. Friday.
A "large southerly swell" moving into Southern California’s coastal waters on Wednesday evening is expected to peak in height Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, the National Weather Service said.
The agency warned of sneaker waves from Wednesday evening through Thursday morning, along with strong rip currents. Wave heights are expected to peak at a height between 8 and 11 feet tall along "exposed south-facing beaches," such as Cayucos, Port Hueneme and the Long Beach area, the agency said.
The areas affected include the coasts of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
Beach Hazards Statements are issued when "threats such as rip currents, longshore currents, sneaker waves and other hazards create life-threatening conditions in the surf zone."
If you get caught in a rip current, relax and float — don't swim against the current, the National Weather Service says. If you can, swim in a direction that follows the shoreline. If you can't escape the current, face the shore and either call or wave for help, the NWS said.