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Southern California temperatures start cooling off

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Southern California got a much needed dose of cooler temperatures on Sunday after two days of sweltering heat that broke decades-old records.

The mercury started falling back to more seasonal temperatures in the 80s in a cooling trend that is expected to continue into the week, said David Sweet, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"We're seeing the return of the sea breezes that function as our natural air conditioning system," he said. "We're transitioning back to a normal pattern."

Thermometers soared Friday and Saturday when an area of high pressure hovered over the region, coupled with a flow of air from the Nevada desert that pushed westward, blocking the normal cooler air heading onshore from the Pacific Ocean, Sweet said.

The result was some extreme temperatures.

Saturday's high of 103 degrees in downtown Los Angeles broke the previous record of 102 degrees set in 1979. Long Beach also posted a record high of 103 degrees on Saturday as did the Santa Monica pier with 87 degrees.

On Friday, a 100-degree temperature in downtown Los Angeles broke the record of 99 degrees set in 1894. Long Beach saw a record-breaker of 104 degrees.

Beaches and highways leading to them were jammed throughout the weekend with inland and urban dwellers seeking ocean breezes. Electric fans were nowhere to be found at retailers.

The dry heat coming at the end of the summer when vegetation is already burn-ready sparked several wildfires through the region.

One burned near the famed Getty Center art museum atop a Los Angeles mountain while another scorched 1,200 acres of Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in San Diego County. Several other smaller blazes were reported in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

So far, all the fires have been in wildland areas and have not threatened lives or property.