Coast-to-Coast Heat Will Break Records and Steam New York City
(Bloomberg) -- A vast swath of the U.S. will face dangerously high temperatures this week, with triple-digit heat baking major cities and taxing power grids across the country.
“This is the strongest heat we’ve seen all summer,” with 170 million people under advisories, said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist at the Energy Weather Group. “There will be many records set.”
Warnings and advisories stretch across the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast and 17 states in the South and Midwest, according to the National Weather Service. Humidity in the east will exacerbate the heat, making it feel like 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius) in New York Thursday and 110 degrees in Washington.
This year has been defined by extreme weather, with a February storm triggering an energy crisis in Texas, record-setting June temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and California currently struggling to extinguish the second-largest wildfire in state history. It’s all linked to climate change and this week’s heat wave comes on the heels of a landmark United Nations report warning of catastrophic weather shifts without immediate action to rein in carbon emissions.
The heat won’t start to ease until the weekend, said William Churchill, a forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center. Some of the most serious warnings cover major cities including Seattle, Philadelphia and St. Louis, where temperatures don’t fall as much after sundown because streets and buildings tend to retain heat.
“That could be more deadly because you don’t get that relief at night to cool you down, and then the heat comes back the next day,” Churchill said.
It’s unusual to see so much of the U.S. facing extreme heat at the same time, said Rouiller. That’s going to stress power grids as millions of people turn up their air conditioning.
Operators are already taking steps to make sure the lights stay on. PJM Interconnection LLC, which oversees the biggest U.S. grid stretching from Chicago to Washington D.C., issued a hot weather alert for Wednesday and Thursday, asking power companies to limit repair work.
California’s grid operator is also asking power plant-owners to restrict maintenance through Friday to ensure there’s enough capacity. New York’s operators has an alert in place seeking additional power import capacity from neighboring grids for Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s extremely hot, almost from coast to coast,” Rouiller said.
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