Heatwave bakes southwest US as California issues emergency order

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The US southwest continued to roast in a relentless heatwave Friday — with excessive heat warnings issued in five states, including California, where a state of emergency was declared.

The National Weather Service announced the extreme weather warnings Friday in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and parts of western Colorado — as the mercury was expected to rise as high as 117 degrees.

In California, residents were implored for a second consecutive day to conserve power as the state’s energy grid strained to meet skyrocketing demand.

Temperatures were expected to top a record high of 108 degrees in Sacramento Friday, while the thermometer reached an eye-popping 128 degrees in Death Valley Thursday — just six degrees shy of the highest all-time temperature ever recorded on Earth back in 1913, according to the National Park Service.

A high of 124 degrees was expected in Death Valley Friday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency in the state Thursday, signing a proclamation that would ease restrictions and allow power plants to increase operations to combat the “extreme heat peril.”

The operator of California’s energy grid also urged people to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and to avoid using other major appliances.

Meanwhile, the state’s already-strained electric grid could be dealt another blow as water in a key reservoir is also expected to drop so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will likely be forced to shut down for the first time since it opened in 1967 — just in time for peak wildfire season, CNN reported.

An ongoing drought amid the heat wave has pushed Lake Oroville in northern California to “alarming levels,” according to the report, adding that the state’s second largest reservoir can power up to 800,000 homes at capacity.

The heatwave also stressed power systems in Texas — as the state still reels from February’s devastating blackout.

The deadly winter storm caused mass power outages that led to food, water, and heat shortages — and more than 150 deaths, according to the Department of State Health Services.

Texas’s embattled electrical grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), already warned residents Monday to cut electricity use “as much as possible” this week.

ERCOT was “supposed to have enough reserves to meet peak demand this summer, yet here we are in mid-June with the first bout of high temperatures and they are already seeking conservation,” Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, a provider of commodities data and analytics, told Reuters.

“It does not bode well for the months ahead.”

“I turn my air way up to, like, 83 degrees because of the fear of getting an electric bill that I’m not able to pay,” Carolyn Rivera, a 77-year-old retired teacher in Houston told NPR.

Electric bills in the Lone Star State skyrocketed to as high as $17,000 per month for some homeowners during the winter storm.

In Arizona and Nevada, conditions were so extreme that doctors at burn centers warned the public earlier this week to stay off asphalt and to be mindful of baking-hot sidewalks and desert sand, NPR reported.

“Every year it’s hot in the Southwest,” NWS meteorologist Bob Oravec told Reuters. “It just seems to be more newsworthy when you have temperatures of 115 or so day after day. It’s pretty hot.”

Palm Springs, California, tied its all-time record high on Thursday when it hit a scorching 123 degrees.

A record high of 117 degrees was also expected Friday in Phoenix, while a top temp of 114 was expected in Las Vegas, according to the National Weather Service.

With Post wires

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