Hottest place in the county Friday? It wasn't the desert

Stifling, record-setting heat covered much of San Diego County Friday, but the desert wasn’t the hottest spot on the map.

That distinction went to the semi-rural North County community of Ramona, where temperatures reached a record-setting 115 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

El Cajon placed a close second, with a high of 112 degrees, and the desert community of Borrego Springs recorded a high of 111 degrees.

“It’s been quite the day,” said Meteorologist Adam Roser, noting that it was 106 degrees at 4 p.m. Friday at their Rancho Bernardo offices. The previous all-time high in Ramona was 111 degrees, he said.

In Ramona Friday, the streets were emptier than normal. People just didn’t want to go out unless they had to. But those who did seemed to be taking it in stride.

U.S. Postal Service carrier Fernando Villalpando said he was making his deliveries at a relaxed pace and that his biggest problem was having to turn down offers of refreshment from customers.

“I was walking down Main Street and almost every business was offering me water,” he said. “I told them I’ve got plenty.”

Dana Green, 56, was spending the day at a work site off Day Street just north of Main on a roller machine compacting base materials in preparation for the paving of a street in front of a new townhouse complex still under construction.

“It’s brutal,” Green said. “You should see me. I just soak myself. I wrap wet rags around my neck. I get my pants wet. I get everything wet. I don’t care. Otherwise, that’s just heat stroke.”

Green wore a big hat, gloves because the steering wheel and other equipment on the roller is too hot to touch otherwise, and a long-sleeve shirt.

“Then I get the sleeves wet and if there’s a little breeze, it’s like an air-conditioner.”

One of Green’s coworkers, Rob Phillips, said he was used to the heat, having worked out in the desert for years.

“I’ve got plenty of water and am taking my time,” he said. “The trick is, you’ve got to drink water last night.”

The air-conditioning at the Ramona Community Library, one of two official Cool Zones in town, hit visitors in the face with refreshing temperatures when they walked in.

Bob Snelling and his daughter Andrea, who have lived in “the same unair-conditioned house for 50 years,” are frequent visitors to the library during such days. The two relaxed in comfortable chairs Friday afternoon, waiting out Mother Nature.

“And a lot of other people are doing the same thing,” Bob Snelling said. “Most of these people have been here awhile and haven’t moved. We have lots of fans at home, but this is better.”

In Santee, where the temperature reached 111 degrees, Rachel Rice and her daughter were at the very crowded community pool. Earlier in the morning, she got a call from a frantic neighbor who was vacationing on the East Coast but had heard about the heat back home.

“She asked me to go into her house and turn on the air-conditioning so her cat wouldn’t die,” Rice said.

Friday morning near the Oceanside Pier, where a high temperature of just 86 was recorded, beachgoers and workers alike seemed to be enjoying the heat.

“We’re from Arizona, and it’s 107 (degrees) over there,” said a bearded man unloading coolers, beach umbrellas and plastic toys from a car that pulled over early Friday on The Strand in Oceanside. He and his family were nearing the end of a week at the coast to celebrate the 4th of July.

“This is not hot, this is a good day,” said the man, who gave his name only as Nate. “It’s beautiful here, and I enjoy it.”

Nearby, Oceanside resident Dave Marcin was setting up his portable food stand in the shade under the pier. He sells tamales, nachos, hot dogs, sodas, teas and snacks, and he said he was looking forward to a busy day.

“We’ve got a ton of extra water,” Marcin said. He likes being at the beach as much as the tourists do, he said.

“I smile all the time,” he said. “There’s lots of beautiful scenery. That’s the best thing about being out here.”

Staff writers Phil Diehl and Karen Pearlman contributed to this report.

jharry.jones@sduniontribune.com; 760/529-4931; Twitter: @jharryjones

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