The few drops of rain Santa Barbara received in the wee hours of Thursday morning weren’t nearly enough to offset the humid heat blanketing the area to such a degree that the California electricity operator is warning of power interruptions. Already, demand is exceeding expectations Friday morning. To avoid power blinks, the state’s ISO (Independent System Operator) calls for Californians to reduce electricity use between 1 and 10 p.m. on Friday, September 1.
The ISO forecasts a record demand for electricity will take place Friday afternoon as more and more customers switch on air conditioners and use other power-consuming devices. The statewide Flex Alert asks that all unnecessary lights be extinguished, major appliance use avoided, curtains drawn against the heat, fans used for cooling, and air conditioners set to 78 degrees or higher after noon and well into the evening. Go here for more energy-saving tips.
The stifling heat wave has overtaken California and other southwest states all week. Caused by a large area of high pressure over Four Corners — where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet — it’s expected to set records in Northern California over the Labor Day weekend and is what’s keeping the remnants of Hurricane Harvey raining on the Southern states, according to the National Weather Service. Thursday’s rain was accompanied by dry lightning that sparked numerous brush fires in the Los Angeles area, according to the Times.
Currently, a sunny 95 degrees is forecast for Friday in Santa Barbara’s downtown, with humidity hitting 97 percent in the late afternoon, said the National Weather Service. The hot day will be followed by another hot night of 71 degrees. The temperatures decrease into the 80s over the weekend near the coast, with nights cooling somewhat into the 60s. In the valleys, temperatures stay well into the 100s through Saturday, then “drop” into the high 90s, with no relief until later in the week.
Heat warnings stay in place until Sunday or Monday, when clouds from Tropical Storm Lidia blow overhead, said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Though fans are advised to save energy, the heat warnings acknowledge finding shelter in an air-conditioned space may become necessary. Avoiding strenuous activity outdoors during the worst of the day’s heat is advised, as is drinking water or electrolytes. Santa Barbara’s Public Health Department reminds that the elderly, infants, and anyone with chronic ailments can be easily susceptible to dehydration. Pets also can suffer from dehydration and heat-related illness.
The effect of renewable power on energy output in California can be seen in many charts and graphs at the ISO website, important during times when generating plant capacity is in danger of being overtaxed. The green line on the graph below for September 1, 2017, shows net energy demand, or how electricity produced from renewables, like solar, wind, and hydroelectric, reduces demand on power plants, many of which in California burn natural gas.