(Bloomberg) -- New York City is urging all homes and businesses to conserve power to avoid outages as a heat wave peaks.
The city issued an emergency alert shortly after 4:15 p.m. local time, saying residents should avoid use of major appliances and limit air conditioning. Central Park is forecast to reach 96 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius). The heat is expected to break late in the day, as heavy thunderstorms arrive.
“One more day of heat and humidity,” said Nelson Vaz, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York. “We will have isolated to scattered, possibly severe, thunderstorms late today into this evening that is the first sign of the heat breaking.”
The heat in New York comes on the heels of an historic heat wave in the Pacific Northwest. Spokane, Washington, is forecast to hit 110. The utility Avista Corp. announced another round of rolling blackouts to cope with soaring demand for electricity. The periodic outages will affect about 5,800 customers, the company said.
It’s the latest example of extreme weather pushing power grids and other infrastructure to the brink this year. In February, a rare deep freeze in Texas crippled the state’s power system, left millions in the dark and killed more than 150 people. California narrowly averted blackouts during a heat wave earlier this month.
The heat in the normally rainy and temperate Pacific Northwest has particularly brutal, buckling roads and halting trams. Lytton, British Columbia -- a region of glacier-fed rivers -- reached 121 degrees. British Columbia has reported about 100 more deaths than normal since the heat wave began.
From 2004 to 2018, heat killed an average of 702 people in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“Heat is a silent killer, it is not something visual like a tornado or a hurricane,” said Kimberly McMahon, public weather services program manager for the National Weather Service. “With respect to heat fatalities, there will still be heat related facilities days after a heat event ends.”
The Northwest heat prompted President Joe Biden to call Tuesday for a more resilient power grid. He met Wednesday with governors from Western states anxious about another summer of wildfires, drought and power failures, and pledged that the government will give additional aviation support using satellites and other new technologies to remotely detect fires.
Participants included Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who declared a state of emergency Tuesday citing an imminent wildfire threat amid hot, dry, windy conditions, ongoing drought, and no forecast rain. The mercury hit 116 in Portland on Monday, a third-straight record.
In New York, ConEd asked customers in New York City and Westchester County “to conserve energy and help keep service reliable” as increased power use can overheat equipment and lead to outages. The utility projected demand Wednesday to reach 12,300 megawatts, exceeding last year’s peak of 11,740 megawatts. It is reducing voltage by 8% to some areas in Queens while crews work to repair equipment.
Other power officials in the Eastern U.S. have also called for reduced use or warned about potential supply shortfalls, pushing electricity prices higher.
U.S. natural gas futures rose for a seventh straight day, the longest streak since 2017, as heat boosted demand, fueling speculation that that inventories will be tight ahead of winter. The fuel has soared more than 100% over the past year.
New York City spot electricity prices climbed 54% to average $91.79 a megawatt-hour as of 2:25 p.m., according to data compiled by Wood Mackenzie.
Heat warnings and advisories stretch from New Jersey to Maine, as well as across the Northwest, reaching into Montana and California. Environment Canada has posted heat warnings across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and up the Mackenzie River nearly to the Arctic circle in the west, plus New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the east.
The hot weather that blankets much of the U.S. is forecast to continue cooling through the end of the week. Thursday’s high in Central Park will be 80 and then 76 by Sunday, the weather service said. The Fourth of July weekend will likely start gray and rainy.
Later Wednesday, Massachusetts may see severe thunderstorms that can bring hail and damaging winds to an area home to about 7 million people, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center. In the West, parts of California, Oregon, Nevada, and Idaho could have dry lightning storms, which can cause wildfires.
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