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Archive for Sunday, July 23, 2006

California temperatures prompt record power use

July 23, 2006

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— Triple-digit temperatures smashed records across California on Saturday, straining thermometers and air conditioners and prompting dozens of scattered electricity outages that left residents sizzling.

A major Northern California power plant tripped off line as temperatures climbed, reducing electricity reserves below acceptable levels and prompting the state's grid manager to declare a "stage one emergency" while calling for conservation.

No relief was expected until at least midweek from a weather front that sent temperatures soaring even along the normally cool California coast and brought Midwest-style humidity into the usually arid Central Valley.

Heat records were set throughout the San Francisco Bay area, including Livermore with 115 degrees, San Rafael with 108 degrees, and San Jose at 102 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. San Francisco's 87 degrees topped an 81 degree record set in 1917.

"All around the Bay area we're breaking records today," said Brooke Bingaman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Monterey. Temperatures were expected to cool overnight, though it may take several days for the hottest areas to feel relief, she said.

Emergency workers scrambled to help heat exposure victims in downtown Los Angeles, where 99-degree temperatures broke the 96-degree record set in 1960. Temperatures in Los Angeles' Woodland Hills section were expected to top the all-time record of 116 degrees set in 1985.

Records were set or tied at all five Central Valley recording locations: 109 degrees in Sacramento, 111 in Redding, and 112 in Red Bluff, Stockton and Modesto.

Power use across the state broke records Friday and again Saturday - unusual because it was the weekend.

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