L.A. heat shrivels residents, visitors

LOS ANGELES — It was so hot in Los Angeles on Tuesday that even Spider-Man took the day off.

As temperatures soared to 99 degrees, tourists along Hollywood Boulevard were disappointed to discover that a fall heat wave has just about the same effect on Spider-Man — and Batman and Wonder Woman — as kryptonite does on Superman: it turns them into mere mortals.

"The costumed characters really suffer in this heat. They have to stay inside," said John Oren, who had loaded up on sunblock, bottled water and diet soda before setting up a stand where he sells wind chimes in front of the Kodak Theatre.

Only Catwoman, bundled up in what she acknowledged was an uncomfortably hot suit that included a leather mask, tights, corset and boots, was brave enough to step outside and meow to passers-by.

Although Tuesday's high of 99 in downtown Los Angeles was 7 degrees below the record for the day, it was still 17 degrees above normal. The temperature reached a record high 113 on Monday.

Tourists carried not only cameras Tuesday but also bottles of water and — usually a rare sight in sunny Southern California — umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. Several said the heat caught them by surprise.

"We had to buy new clothes. We brought winter clothes," said tourist Jenni Kinsey of Cardiff, Wales, dressed in a halter top and shorts, and clutching a nearly empty bottle of water.

"Water and lots of beer," she said with a laugh. "That's how we're keeping cool."

Residents out to walk their dogs carried two bottles of water, one for the animal and another for them. At the edge of the city's sprawling Griffith Park, trainers at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center were struggling to keep scores of horses cool by hosing them down, limiting their workouts and running cooling fans in the stalls.

The unrelenting heat also placed huge demand for power on utility companies as people ran their air conditioners nonstop.

Southern California Edison said the peak electrical demand Tuesday was 19,955 megawatts, the highest it has recorded since Aug. 31, 2007, when a record high of 23,303 megawatts was reached.