The savage heat baking California and several other states in the West will continue through the holiday weekend
The savage heat that has gripped several states in the West will persist through the holiday weekend — and for the third day in a row, Californians are being advised to curb their electric consumption to avoid power outages.
“Numerous record-tying/breaking highs are possible across the entire region and widespread heat-related advisories are in place,” the National Weather Service said Thursday.
“The heat wave will pose a high to very high risk to the general population, particularly the elderly and those without adequate air conditioning, due to both the intensity of the high temperatures and duration of the heat wave,” the weather service warned.
More than 45 million people were under heat alerts across most of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada and parts of Utah, Arizona as well as California.
The heat has been so intense that millions of Californians have again been urged to reduce their electricity consumption between the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday to protect the power grid.
The California Independent System Operator — which manages 80% of the state’s power grid — issued the third Flex Alert of the week, asking residents to be mindful of their electricity use.
“The Flex Alert covers that time of day when the grid is most stressed from higher demand and less solar energy,” the operator explained.
The operator also asked residents to pre-cool their homes before 4 p.m. and then set their thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit during reduction hours and to avoid charging their electric vehicles.
California cities including Los Angeles, Redding, San Diego, Sacramento, Palm Springs and Fresno may see temperatures as high as 116 degrees, according to CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford. Similar temperatures are expected in Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Multiple jurisdictions including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Orange and Fresno counties have opened cooling centers. Officials have also compiled a list of all the cooling centers in the state.
Temperatures up to 105 degrees may be seen in Reno, Nevada; Boise, Idaho; and Spokane, Washington state.
Why this heat wave is different
High summer temperatures have been the norm in California, but what makes this heatwave especially dangerous is the length of time it’s forecast to linger over much of the state. In addition, little relief is expected during overnight hours.
“Even after the sun goes down, heat can be a real danger — especially in large cities. Dark pavement and buildings are very effective at absorbing heat,” the weather service office in Los Angeles said.
And that’s why higher temperatures are more common in large cities, making them susceptible to becoming an “urban heat island,” the service explained.
The weather service defines a heat wave as a period of abnormally hot and humid weather lasting for more than two days.
Excessive heat has killed more people than any other extreme weather event in the US. Heat deaths have outpaced hurricane deaths by more than 15-to-1 over the past decade, according to data tracked by the National Weather Service.
Climate change imposes conditions that have been making extreme weather events more deadly and more common.
In Arizona, where temperatures are expected to hit triple digits this weekend, 111 people have died from heat-related complications this year in Maricopa County as of Wednesday, according to a report from the county’s public health department.
The report indicates 38% of the deaths have been in people 50 to 64 years old, and 80% of the deaths occurred outdoors.
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