SUNDAY, April 14, 2024

Warnings power blackouts as sweltering Californians head to the coast to stay cool

Warnings power blackouts as sweltering Californians head to the coast to stay cool

Californians faced more potential power blackouts on Tuesday as many headed to the coast to try to escape the stifling heat.

Millions have been sweltering in triple-digit temperatures for around a week during what’s been called a “dangerous” heatwave.

“Oh, it's hot out here. Yeah, it's definitely unusually hot”, Matt Hill, 52, from Los Angeles said as he threw himself into the waves in Santa Monica, trying to cool down on his bodyboard.

His view was shared by 17-year-old Antonio Moore, visiting from Boston, who told Reuters: “I hate it. I'm used to snow. So. I hate it. It's really hot... It's too hot” as he came out of the water under the famous pier.

Some parts of California have seen record temperatures set recently.

In Death Valley, the thermometer hit 127F (53C) on Thursday - the hottest September day ever thought to have been recorded on earth. Monday saw parts of the Sacramento Valley hit new highs too.

But some in Santa Monica were happy to just make the most of the heat:

“I’m from Mojave... Well, actually, Lancaster, Palmdale. And the weather here is amazing compared to the one up there or up north... 123 degrees (50C) about three days ago or so. So here it's like perfect... It's perfect weather” Luz Quiros, 54 told Reuters as she took in the ocean breeze.

Her feelings were echoed by entertainer ‘D-Rock’, 54, who was drawing a crowd on the pier, generating huge bubbles for a hot audience:

“It's hot, but, you know, you got to work. Do it... When you have fun and make people happy, this doesn't mean nothing.. the heat doesn't mean nothing, right?”

As the breeze kept beach-lovers cool, authorities were pleading with residents to throttle their power use, fearful that increased demand from air conditioning units and fans would overload supplies, leading to local power blackouts.

The warning - known as a flex alert - came from California’s Independent Service Operator (ISO) and asked people to voluntarily moderate their use during peak hours, but also issued an “Energy Emergency Alert 1” which indicates that all power supplies were expected to be drawn on.

“I actually live in an apartment. So I think a lot of people are using the air conditioner, like... And using like fans, you know, everything to try to keep, you know, cool," Yvonne Ochoa, 25, from Los Angeles told Reuters.

She and others worry that it will also cause power outages.

The California ISO warned locals to “be ready for potential rotating power outages”, adding that “electricity demand is currently forecast at more than 52,000 megawatts - a new historic all-time high for the grid.”

“To tell you the truth... Like, I was burning on the bus yesterday but as soon as I got off, I just jumped in the AC in the car. So I was like, I'm cooling off, you know? So I'm working out with it. Like I'm in between. I'm a moderate” laughed Sama Elsakka, 52, visiting from Brooklyn.

Others, like Josue Roma, 25, said they’ll keep the AC running because they can’t go without:

“Low-key, we just bought like two AC's for the house cause... ooohh .. this heat is so bad and it's really not giving,” he told Reuters.

Governor, Gavin Newsom, released a taped video on Tuesday in which he urged Californians to do “a little bit more” to keep the energy supplies going, also blaming years of drought for the reason the state has reduced hydroelectric power generation capability.

Weather experts are also closely watching the path of Hurricane Kay, with concerns that the flow around the storm could ultimately lead to extreme heat along the beaches around San Diego.

An extreme weather heat warning remains in place until late Thursday.