Heat brings out beachgoers in West as other regions clean up
Feb. 17, 2016
SAN DIEGO (AP) — John Larson sat on a blanket on a Southern California beach, furiously posting videos on Facebook of his sons jumping in the waves and bracing for the expletives from friends in Buffalo, New York.
It was 5 below zero when Larson and his sons left this weekend for their trip to San Diego, where a heat wave sent temperatures into the mid-80s on Tuesday.
"Oh yeah, they hate me," the 51-year-old graphic designer said of the response he got to his beach posts. "I get quotes like, 'Jerk!'"
Beaches in Southern California were crowded after the holiday weekend saw record-breaking heat from Los Angeles to San Diego, while the East Coast and the South cleaned up from a deep freeze and tornadoes.
It was even hotter in Phoenix: Tuesday's high topped out at 87 degrees, which broke the previous record of 84 set in 2014.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 90 degrees for Wednesday in what would be the earliest 90-degree day on record for the desert city.
The normal temperature for this time of year is in the 70s. The previous mark was set on Feb. 24, 1986.
Phoenix also saw record highs last week as an unusually strong high-pressure system lingered.
The surge in temperatures has been bringing rattlesnakes out of hibernation. A fire agency in southern Arizona started getting calls in the last two weeks from panicked residents about the poisonous snakes on their yards and patios, something they don't usually see until late March and early April.
Millions along the East Coast, meanwhile, were still shivering from freezing temperatures.
A treacherous mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain caused car crashes from the Mid-Atlantic states through Pennsylvania to northern New England on Tuesday, a day after twisters tore through parts of the South.
At least three deaths were reported on slick roads, all in Virginia, and thousands were left without power from weather-caused outages.
Down South, people combed through the wreckage after a big storm system turned several homes to rubble Monday in the northwest corner of Florida's Panhandle and in Mississippi. More than a dozen homes were destroyed in both states, but there were no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries, authorities say.
In the Pacific Northwest, a President's Day storm brought record rainfall and sent rivers overflowing their banks in Washington state.
The weather woes nationwide were no problem for Larson in sunny Southern California. He has five more days here and is in no hurry to get home to Buffalo, where extra crews removed overnight snowfall and accumulations could reach up to 18 inches in some parts of the region, the weather service said.
He's soaking up the sun with his sons, ages 11 and 17, since the unseasonable heat is expected to dissipate by Wednesday.
California's warmth was likely to end overnight when a low-pressure system brings rain to a large part of the state and snow of up to 2 feet to the mountains.
Associated Press writers Melissa Nelson-Gabriel in Century, Florida; Walter Berry in Phoenix; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Jeff Amy in Jackson, Mississippi; and Deepti Hajela in New York contributed to this report.