Record-breaking rare and powerful heat waves across Northwest America are wreaking havoc on the region’s infrastructure, bending roads, disrupting public transport and creating constant power outages. Serving about 340,000 customers in eastern Washington, Idaho and Oregon, Avista Corporation has established uninterrupted disruption for the first time in the company’s history as temperatures have risen.
Periodic blackouts affected about 4,667 customers as of Tuesday night, warning 21,000 people that they could face a catastrophe, the agency said. The heat also reduced Seattle’s highways and the suspended service burned Portland’s streetcar cables. The rupture in the worst heatwave in Pacific Northwest history is the latest sign of an unprecedented challenge ahead this summer. The heat, drought, and fires related to climate change are trying to keep electricity in place and prevent further heat-related deaths that claim the lives of about .50 people in the United States each year.
President Joe Biden will meet with Western governors on Wednesday to discuss how to deal with the fire threat. Mercury reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit (47 centigrade) in Portland on Monday, setting a third record, with Seattle posting an all-time high of 108, according to the National Weather Service. Lytton, British Columbia, a region of glacial forests and rivers, reached 118, a new record for Canada just one day after breaking the previous record of 1937.
“I’ve never seen it in my 40-year forecast before,” said meteorologist Paul Walker of Aquaweider Inc. at State College in Pennsylvania. Biden said Tuesday that northwestern heat shows that climate change is causing more frequent and extreme weather events. “We need to invest in building more resilient grids,” Biden said in a speech in Wisconsin, citing an unusual winter storm in Texas, citing reasons for the state power grid to almost collapse. “That’s why we have to act,” he said.
Meanwhile, northeastern Pennsylvania has begun warming up to Maine, which could push New York into the 1990s, according to the National Weather Service. Humidity will feel even hotter this week, relying on energy conditioners across the region to rely on air conditioners to frustrate the summer heat. Integrated Edison Inc. around 270,000 customers in parts of Queens and Manhattan were told to save energy on Tuesday night, when the company repaired equipment and encouraged rep users not to use power-consuming appliances such as washers and dryers. The New York-based utility agency further reported that the voltage level was reduced by 5% to protect the equipment.