Hot weather causes power outages and wildfires in California

AmericaCalifornia’s power grid faces challenges as the heat wave enters its most intense phase with temperatures possibly reaching 46 degrees Celsius.

More than 4,000 firefighters are battling 14 major wildfires across California due to the heat. Four people died in a fire over the weekend. California officials on September 6 forecast temperatures in some parts of the state could reach 46 degrees Celsius, asking residents to prepare for power cuts when the heat is at its peak.

Firefighters drop chemical extinguishing agents on the Fairview fire near Hemet, California, on September 6.  Photo: AFP

Firefighters drop chemical extinguishing agents on the Fairview fire near Hemet, California, on September 6. Image: AFP

“We’re entering the most intense heat wave,” said Elliot Mainzer, president of ISO, the state’s power grid operator. “Electricity demand on September 5 and 6 was at an all-time record, increasing the risk of rotating power cuts.”

The state’s power supply is 5,000 mW less than the peak demand at 5:30 p.m. on September 6.

September 6 is the seventh day in a row that California is on a statewide energy-saving alert. In the midst of a severe heat wave that began last week and is expected to continue through September 9, the National Weather Service warned of the risk of heatstroke statewide, saying the elderly and children are at risk. illness or death due to heat.

Losing power and not being able to use fans or air conditioners can seriously affect the elderly and children, as well as people with disabilities using electrically powered medical equipment.

On September 5, Sacramento recorded a record high of 45 degrees Celsius and some areas in the Central Valley reached more than 46 degrees Celsius.

The extreme heat is the result of a “heat dome” that envelopes the area, where a flap of upper atmospheric pressure traps hot air inside. The climate crisis is not the cause of the heat dome, but scientists warn it will make the weather more extreme.

Low humidity and high temperatures increase the risk of wildfires. Anale Burlew, deputy director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said four people died in wildfires over the weekend and 4,400 firefighters were trying to contain 14 large fires across the state. On September 4 alone, California recorded 45 new fires.

High temperatures also make pollution worse, promoting the formation of haze in the ground layer. In Southern California, officials last week advised people to stay indoors and avoid overexertion.

Several hundred thousand Californians experienced power cuts in August 2020 due to the heat but avoided a similar scenario last summer. California Governor Gavin Newson last week signed an executive order allowing the state’s last nuclear plant to continue operating until its planned 2025 shutdown deadline to ensure energy supplies.

Hong Hanh (Theo Guardian)

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