Fresno is expected to either beat or tie heat records Monday through Thursday, and even then, the area won’t see a relief from triple digits until early next week, according to Jim Bagnall, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Hanford.
Thursday will also see highest demand for electricity in the state in the current heat wave, according to PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles.
Fresno set a record Sunday with a high of 107 degrees, a tick higher than the 106 set in 1945. Monday set another record at 108, which beat out 1962’s mark of 107. The 110s forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday would tie records set in 1920 and 2008, said Bagnall.
Thursday could reach 111 degrees, which is expected to knock out 1981’s record of 108, said Bagnall.
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The Merced River near Pohono Bridge reached flood stage as of 10 a.m. Monday, and the flood warning remains in effect. The river was to recede later Monday, but will build back up to the 10-foot flood stage by Tuesday after runoff from melting snow reaches the area, Bagnall said.
As for the surprise rain Clovis and Fresno received Sunday, Bagnall said don’t expect more in the Valley. However, the Sierra could see afternoon thunderstorms.
PG&E has moved crews from coastal areas to the interior of California where the heat is expected to impact people the most, Boyles said.
As of Monday morning, the outages in Fresno and Clovis that happened Sunday night were over and power was restored, except for a few isolated cases, said Boyles. At the peak about 5,000 customers were without electricity – meaning no air conditioning for them during the hot late afternoon and evening hours.
He does not expect brown outs to occur, but there is a possibility of equipment failure in the next few days. “Equipment lines overload, transformers fail, a variety of things can happen,” Boyles said.
Boyles said the peak hours of use are 6 to 7 p.m. when people get home from work and turn up the air conditioner and use appliances. Although Boyles doesn’t see a flex alert being issued – in which some customers agree to stop using power during peak demand –he said PG&E encourages energy conservation. If you don’t have any pets, he recommends turning the thermostat up 10 degrees if you’re leaving the house and turning it off if you’ll be gone for more than a day.
Statewide, PG&E had 189,000 customers lose power since Thursday, but by Monday electricity was restored to 176,000 of those, according to Lysney Paulo, a company spokeswoman. She expects the peak load to hit Thursday and for it to be the most impactful heat day on the state’s power grid since 2006. “A heat event is similar to a winter storm. We plan, prepare and drill.”
Steven Greenlee, spokesman for the California Independent Systems Operator, said heat waves in other parts of the West, like in Arizona, also have an impact on California. “The grid in the western U.S. is interconnected,” he said. “If they have high loads on their system, we have less pathways to transport electricity. In addition, we often import electricity. If these other areas are dealing with their own heatwaves, it lessens their availability to us.”
An increase in wildfires is also a possibility, according to Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynne Polmachoff. There’s been 1,900 fires this year in California that have burned 19,000 acres, she said, an increase in the five-year average.
Fresno Unified coaches and staff have been advised to watch children during summer school recess and sports activities this week, according to a district press release. Staff is advised to make sure students are hydrated, taking shade breaks, and not running long distances or strenuously exercising.
All pools at Hoover, Fresno, Edison, Roosevelt, McLane and Sunnyside high schools are also open and free of charge this week for the community, the district says.
Heat wave highs predicted in Fresno
Monday: 110 degrees
Source: National Weather Service