Heatwave prompts power outages in southern Califonia

As temperatures around Los Angeles approach record level, the strain on the power network proves too much.

A wise place to be during a heatwave - on the beach at Santa Monica, Southern California [EPA]
A wise place to be during a heatwave - on the beach at Santa Monica, Southern California [EPA]

Southern California, or SoCal as it is affectionately known, expects warm weather all year round, but these temperatures are unusually high for October.

This weekend, most places hit the mid to high thirties and one all time record was broken. In the environs of Los Angeles, an October day would normally warm to a pleasant 25C so this heat has been a challenge for people and electricity suppliers.

Most people have air conditioners in southern California and, unsurprisingly, these have been on full blast for the last few days.

This demand for power temporarily overwhelmed the supply capability and power cuts were the result. Roughly 9,000 residents of West Los Angeles neighbourhoods found themselves without power, on both Friday and Saturday evenings, as circuits overheated causing damage to a major cable.

Microclimates make a big difference to local weather and the coastal strip is normally significantly cooler than the city.

Sea breezes develop every day, keeping the beaches breezy, and maintaining lower temperatures than those found only a few kilometers inland.

Los Angeles International airport, (LAX), Santa Monica and the famous Venice Beach, are commonly five to eight degrees cooler than downtown Los Angeles as a result of this sea breeze. Despite this, LAX just marked three days with a temperature of over 30C. Saturday peaked at 37C, twelve degrees above average and only one degree short of the October record.

At the same time, downtown Los Angeles was only a little hotter. The University of Southern California, or USC, chalked up 38C on Saturday.

Weather records at USC started in 1877 and show that the highest temperature ever recorded in October was 42C.

Downtown LA and the beaches may not have broken records, despite the heatwave, but one all time SoCal heat record has been breached. Camarillo is a little north of Los Angeles and recorded its all-time high temperature of 42C on Friday.

The previous record was 39.5C, set on September 24, 1978 and records in Camarillo reach back to 1948.

For those enjoying the beaches in this extended summer, swimming too will be a warmer experience.

This year, the temperature of coastal waters is around 23C, four degrees warmer than the long term average. This is typical of an El NIno year, such as this one, when much of the eastern Pacific warms up by one to four degrees.

It is a few degrees cooler in SoCal now and the forecast trend in temperatures is slowly downwards, although not with a return to normal values.

The weather pattern over the US may bring a taste of winter to the northeast soon, but in the southwest, especially Southern California, summer continues, well beyond its usual end date.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

More from News
Most Read