California swelters in summerlike spring heat wave

Firefighter Ernesto Naranjo takes a drink break while battling a brush fire along the 118 freew ...

LOS ANGELES — California baked in a summerlike heat wave Thursday as a strong ridge of high pressure continued to build across the West.

Record highs were reported in many areas, with gusty Santa Ana winds thrown into the mix in Southern California.

Temperatures topped 80 degrees before 9 a.m. at locations around greater Los Angeles, the National Weather Service said.

By mid-afternoon, it was 100 degrees in Long Beach, south of LA, topping the record of 93 set in 1989. In Ventura County, Oxnard hit a record 99 degrees, beating by 10 degrees the previous mark from 1974, the weather service said.

The temperature in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco, was 92, topping by two degrees a 1989 mark.

People who might seek relief in Northern California rivers were warned that waters were still running cold due to snowmelt.

The conditions elevated fire danger, but red flag warnings were not issued because vegetation remains relatively green. Firefighters and helicopters quickly extinguished brush fire Wednesday in Los Angeles County.

The heat was predicted to persist through Friday before dramatic cooling during the weekend brings a chance of precipitation early next week, including mountain snow showers.

The spring heat wave follows an exceptionally dry winter that leaves California to face another year of drought and tightening water supplies.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a key part of the water supply, is just 30% of the April 1 average, the date when it historically is at its peak, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

The Sacramento weather office said the outlook for mid-April and beyond favors a continued warmer-than-normal temperature pattern.