A brutal heatwave enveloping the western United States broke records on Tuesday as high temperatures brought California at the edge of ordering power outages.
Western states are grappling with one of the hottest and longest September heatwaves on record. Temperatures began to soar last week and the National Weather Service (NWS) warned dangerous heat could continue through Friday.
California’s state capital, Sacramento, hit an all-time high of 116F (46.7C) on Tuesday, breaking a 97-year-old record. Six locations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast set all-time record high temperatures, including Santa Rosa, with 115F (46C).
In the neighbor NevadaReno’s 106F (41C) on Tuesday was its hottest day on record in September and broke the previous record for the date, 96F (35.5C) in 1944. It came within two degrees of the all-time high for no any day or month of 108F (42C), set in July 2002 and equaled in July 2007, according to the National Weather Service.
In Salt Lake City, a city more than 4,000 feet (1,219 m) above sea level, temperatures were about 20 degrees above normal, hitting 105 F (40.5 C) on Tuesday, the September day hottest on record since 1874.
The grueling heatwave prompted California authorities to warn on Tuesday that demand for electricity, some of which comes from people turning on the air conditioning, could exceed supply.
California’s Independent System Operator (Caiso), which oversees the power grid, issued a phase three emergency power alert, one step below, ordering utilities to begin rolling blackouts to ease the pressure on the system.
But the network managed to handle record demand. Caiso said peak electricity demand reached 52,061 megawatts on Tuesday, well above the previous record high of 50,270 megawatts set on July 24, 2006.
Although there were no widespread power outages, two outages were reported in the San Francisco Bay Area cities of Palo Alto and Alameda, affecting several thousand customers. for about an hour.
Some 35,700 people lost power in Silicon Valley and southern and inner San Francisco Bay areas and most of the outages were heat-related, Jason King of Pacific Gas said Tuesday evening. & Electric (PG&E). It was not known when power would be restored.
Meanwhile, high temperatures have fueled wildfires in northern and southern California. Four deaths were reported over Labor Day weekend as some 4,400 firefighters battled 14 large blazes in the state, with 45 new blazes on Sunday alone, said Anale Burlew, deputy chief of the California department. forestry and fire protection (Cal Fire).
A wildfire that started Friday in the northern California community of Weed killed two people and one that erupted Monday and quickly spread through the Hemet area of southern California, also killed two people. Authorities said they were found in the same area and apparently died trying to flee the flames.
The extreme temperatures are the result of a “heat dome” bearing down on the region – a ridge of high atmospheric pressure that acts as a lid, trapping heat. Although the climate crisis is not causing heat domes, scientists expect it will bring more extreme weather.
Scientists say climate change has made the west hotter and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. Over the past five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive wildfires in state history.