Image: A girl plays in the sprinklers
Nick Ut  /  AP
A girl plays in the sprinklers to beat the heat in Monterey Park, Calif. on Monday. Southern California Edison says more than 27,000 of its customers were without power Tuesday morning, mainly in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
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updated 9/28/2010 5:30:46 PM ET 2010-09-28T21:30:46

Forecasters may never know just how hot it got in Los Angeles during a day of record-breaking heat: After the temperature soared to 113 degrees in downtown, the thermometer took the rest of the day off.

"It just kind of quit functioning, but the temperature had already peaked," National Weather Service forecaster Stuart Seto said Tuesday of the blistering weather a day earlier. "We doubt that it went over 113."

The fall heat wave pushed temperatures well over 100 degrees from Anaheim, home of Disneyland, to San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Salinas on the usually balmy Central Coast. Many records were set or tied.

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The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Monday recorded its highest-ever demand for electricity as round-the-clock demand for air conditioning caused transformers to blow or burn out, leaving thousands of people in the dark. The department said more than 11,000 customers remained without electricity Tuesday in the city, while Southern California Edison was working to repair heat-related outages for more than 27,000 customers.

Story: Los Angeles bakes at record 113 degrees

SoCal Edison said Monday's usage of 22,771 megawatts was the highest demand on its system since the all-time record of 23,303 megawatts was reached in August 2007.

Investigators were also looking to what caused an underground electrical vault containing transformers in downtown to explode, shattering windows in an office tower.

Transformers and other equipment usually cool down overnight "but when it doesn't, we see problems," Edison spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady said. "Because we've had such hot nights, people are still running their air conditioners, etc. So the equipment really doesn't get a break."

At 3 a.m. Tuesday, with the temperature near 80, hundreds of people were sprawled on the sand or across car hoods at beaches in Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica to catch a cool breath of the Pacific.

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Forecasters referred to Monday as a "temperature explosion" and predicted it wouldn't repeat itself Tuesday. By midday, few locations reported 100-degree readings as clouds streamed overhead. Under mostly gray skies, downtown Los Angeles was just 94 degrees a day after the heat record was broken.

The temperature of 113 recorded just after noon Monday was the hottest registered in the usually moderate downtown area since record-keeping began in 1877. The previous high of 112 was set on June 26, 1990.

The weather service sensor on the University of Southern California campus, which measures temperature, winds, pressure and other data, was partly on the blink early Tuesday. Weather service meteorologist Eric Boldt said technicians were examining it after it began recording temperatures again.

No deaths linked to the heat were reported, but coroner's investigators were trying to determine if the weather played a role in the death of award-winning film editor Sally Menke, 56, whose body was found Tuesday after she went hiking in Griffith Park the previous day. She worked on such movies as "Pulp Fiction," "Kill Bill" and "Jackie Brown."

The Los Angeles Fire Department reported the heat may have contributed to a surge in calls requesting ambulances and other emergency responses, which were up 43 percent Monday over normal activity. The agency also had the highest amount of medical transports in its history.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Wild weather from coast to coast

  1. Closed captioning of: Wild weather from coast to coast

    >>> the record weather from coast to coast .

    >> here's the culprit for the east coast . it's a low pressure that's developing, looks like an 80% chance it's going to develop into a tropical depression or a named storm , nicole. we have already got a risk of strong storms from wilmington all the way up to providence, rhode island , damaging wind, heavy rain , isolated tornadoes. heavy rain pushing its way up, parts of the carolinas yesterday got up to 10 inches of rain. we have got some video to show you of streets turned into rivers and lakes . a lot of flooded out roads, homes, basements, big problems there. here's what we're looking for with there system coming up the coast. starting today into tomorrow, we have got anywhere from three to eight inches of rain from southern florida all the way up into the carolinas. then we move into the midweek period, tomorrow into thursday. that heavy rain , savannah, wilmington, up into norfolk, we're looking for that rain to spread up into the northeast friday afternoon. anywhere from eight to ten inches of rain in some spots. now along the west coast , we have got heat to talk about, yesterday, temperatures in california, southern california , long beach, 111. record high in los angeles , 113 degrees, the hottest it has ever been. it could have actually gotten hotter, but the downtown thermometer was broken for a couple of hours, until they got it fixed, up to 113 degrees. 102 in downtown los angeles , burbank 102, oxnard 106, these temperatures won't cool down until thursday. it is a country of extremes for the next 48 to 72 hours .

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