By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
What normally is a last hurrah of summer was completely turned around in 2020 as temperatures reached 100 degrees and Palisadians remained under safer at home orders in response to COVID-19 over Labor Day weekend.
The previous holiday weekend, Fourth of July, beaches throughout the County of Los Angeles were closed to prevent crowds, but this weekend, beaches remained opened, with Beaches & Harbors urging visitors to follow all public health guidelines.
Unless eating, drinking or in the ocean, beachgoers were required to wear face masks. Orders included staying six feet away from people not a part of the same household.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of following the public health guidelines,” DBH Director Gary Jones said in a statement ahead of the weekend. “It is absolutely imperative that beachgoers avoid crowds.”
Visitors were also encouraged to “pack in, pack out”—removing everything that was brought to the beach back home with them, including trash.
One closure that occurred over the weekend was trails, including “all trails leading into Topanga State Park,” beginning September 5 and extending through Monday, September 7, at 5 p.m. The closure, which included Temescal Gateway Park backcountry trails, was due to extreme heat.
“MRCA is putting public safety first by closing trails in addition to closures from Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Conejo Open Space Conversation Agency,” according to a post on the agency’s social media.
There were several heat-related rescue operations before the closure, including a hiker who died in Malibu on Saturday, according to reports from the Malibu Search and Rescue Team.
Heat records were broken across Southern California, with a countywide record reportedly set in Woodland Hills, which reached 121 degrees on Sunday.
“The 121 degree high temperature at Woodland Hills official site (Pierce College) was also the highest temperature ever recorded in LA County, as well as Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Opisbo counties,” according to National Weather Service Los Angeles.
The LA County Office of Emergency Management reminded residents on Saturday, September 6, that high temperatures heighten the threat of wildfire, as well as the need to prepare.
“We’re witnessing weather conditions that can quickly generate dangerous and fast-moving wildfires, especially in communities that are near foothills, canyons and wildland areas,” stated Kevin McGowan, director of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management. “Emergency response professionals will act quickly and expertly, but they need the cooperation of LA County residents to keep as many neighborhoods as safe as possible.
“We urge all residents to practice wildfire readiness and safety now. Have a plan to evacuate, pack supplies to quickly leave if needed and track breaking news to stay informed.”
Though temperatures were cooling off at the start of the week, predicted Santa Ana winds over Los Angeles and Ventura counties were expected to increase, according to NWS Los Angeles, with gusts up to 60 mph in the mountains and 40 mph near the coast possible.
In addition to the heat and threat of COVID-19, another factor keeping Palisadians indoors over the weekend was poor air quality, in part due to smoke from fires burning throughout California.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District reported that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups/individuals in Northwest Coastal Los Angeles County. By Tuesday the air quality was forecasted to be “good” and “moderate” throughout the day in the region.
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