Record-breaking temperatures hit the West Coast with rolling power blackouts expected


LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — Southern California has been baking since last Friday with temperatures inland soaring to above 100 degrees and rolling power blackouts are expected. Amid a pandemic, many of the usual spots for cooling off are closed so those in need head where they can.

Ahead of Monday’s highest temperatures, 88-year-old Rodolfo Perez headed into one of Los Angeles County’s emergency cooling centers. Social distancing greatly limits the capacity of the center to just 40, so this location in East L.A. fills up quickly.

“There certainly is a need for this,” said Helen Chavez, L.A. County of Emergency Management, “There is a lot of the high temperatures combined with the long number of days of back to back heat is what makes it a public health threat.”

The heat advisory stretches throughout much of this week with triple digit temperatures especially inland. There is frustration and disappointment among Angelenos that coronavirus has closed public swimming pools. Other cool escapes such as shopping malls and some libraries are also closed. So for the second straight day, Carmelo Estrada is back at this emergency cooling center with his mother.

“It helps me and my family a lot because you know, it’s a place to cool down and avoid the dangers of being out there with the heatwave,” said Estrada.

All that includes the fear of coronavirus.

With millions of people working from home, air conditioners are working overtime, straining the power supply. A statewide flex alert has been extended through Wednesday. But Monday afternoon, the state body that monitors the grid says more rolling blackouts have to happen – which could impact more than 3 million home across Southern California despite emergency action taken by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“I signed an emergency proclamation that very specifically, very demonstrably directly shifts energy consumption in this state,” Newsom said. “We’re focused primarily on large energy users, we are shifting to their backup power so they can utilize that power during the peak hours.”

Newsom said he expects energy officials to do better in anticipating demand in order to meet it. City and county officials are monitoring demand at dozens of cooling centers and they are ready to open other public buildings if necessary.

“We’ll continue to find additional public venues to make sure that there is enough supply to meet the demand from the public,” Chazez said.

And the worst is yet to come. The heat wave is expected to bring the hottest temperatures Tuesday afternoon and is expected to shatter records in cities up and down the West Coast.

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