- Demand reached record highs.
- But widespread blackouts were avoided across California.
- The state’s power grid operator issued an emergency alert Tuesday.
- The weather is fueling deadly wildfires.
California managed to avoid widespread blackouts Tuesday night, even as the state set a new record for electricity demand amid a record-setting heat wave gripping much of the state.
California’s power grid operator announced around 7 p.m. local time that power demand had surged to 52,061 megawatts (MW), a new all-time record. But just an hour later the agency announced that widespread rolling blackouts had been avoided in large part because of the conservation efforts of Californians.
Earlier on Tuesday, the agency issued an emergency alert warning that electricity demand could reach all-time highs and that rolling blackouts might be needed to cope with that demand.
Even though widespread blackouts were avoided, at least three municipalities in Northern California briefly lost power Tuesday night, according to The Los Angeles Times. It’s unclear exactly why that was the case, given that California’s power grid operator told the Los Angeles Times that they “did not order rotating outages.”
Temperatures reached all-time record highs in several locations across the state Tuesday, including in Sacramento (116 degrees) and San Jose (109 degrees).
The heat was helping fuel multiple wildfires that killed four people over the Labor Day weekend.
Two bodies were found Monday in the Fairview Fire burning southeast of Los Angeles in Riverside County. By Wednesday morning, the fire had burned more than 7 square miles and was 5% contained. With several evacuation orders in place, more were issued Tuesday afternoon.
The fire also prompted a boil water notice for residents of at least 50 homes.
Six hundred miles to the north, the Mill Fire in Siskiyou County also claimed at least two lives. The fire had burned about 6.5 square miles and was 65% contained Wednesday morning. More than 115 structures were destroyed and dozens of others damaged.
(MORE: Fairview Fire In Photos)
A larger blaze called the Mountain Fire was burning nearby. It had scorched more than 18 square miles and destroyed at least four buildings. As of Wednesday morning the Mountain Fire was 30% contained.
Much of California is under excessive heat warnings through Thursday. With highs well into the triple digits, the National Weather Service says anyone is at a very high risk of heat stress for illness.
Most of the state also remains in ongoing drought conditions.
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.