Odessa, Texas: Water main bursts as Temperatures reach triple digits

Revelation 16:9 “They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Emergency declared as Texas city runs out of WATER amid 102 degree temperatures forcing hospitals to close: ‘Heat dome’ settles over the Midwest and south with brutal temps expected for the next week
  • Odessa’s authorities are scrambling to provide cases of bottled water as much of the sweltering city is without power, amid 100 degree heat
  • The water main burst on Tuesday morning, and emergency crews are struggling to repair it, with state officials helping distribute bottled water
  • In Ohio, 230,000 people were without power – including 169,000 in the state capital, Columbus – due to an over-stretched grid and severe storms
  • On Monday night, parts of the Midwest were buffeted by strong winds which ripped up trees in Chicago and saw people scurrying to their basements
  • Record temperatures, meanwhile, have been recorded in cities including St Louis, Missouri; North Platte, Nebraska; and Nashville, Tennessee – with some cities breaking records set in the 1950s
  • The hot weather, caused by a high pressure ‘heat dome’ preventing the radiation from escaping, is expected to continue for several days

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Texas power demand expected to hit 2021 high during heatwave next week

(Reuters) – The Texas power grid operator on Friday forecast demand next week would reach its highest so far this year as homes and businesses crank up air conditioners to bring relief during another heatwave.

The United States has been beset by several extreme weather events this year, including February’s freeze in Texas that knocked out power to millions and record heat this summer in the Pacific Northwest.

High temperatures in Dallas were expected to reach the upper 90s Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) every day from Aug. 7-17, according to AccuWeather. The city’s normal high is 97 F at this time of year.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates most of the state’s grid, projected power use will reach 72,884 megawatts (MW) on Aug. 9, 73,472 MW on Aug. 11 and 73,628 MW on Aug. 12.

Those peaks would top this year’s current high of 72,856 MW on July 26, but would fall short of the grid’s all-time August 2019 high of 74,820 MW. One megawatt can power around 200 homes on a hot summer day.

The February freeze left millions of Texans without power, water and heat for days during a deadly storm as ERCOT scrambled to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of the grid after an unusually large amount of generation shut due to freezing natural gas pipes and wind turbines.

On-peak power at the ERCOT North hub, which includes Dallas, traded around $44.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) for Friday.

That is well below the average of $199 per MWh seen so far in 2021 due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the freeze, but is above 2020’s average of $26 and the five-year (2016-2020) average of $33.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Forest fire closes in on Turkish power station

By Mert Ozkan and Tuvan Gumrukcu

MILAS, Turkey (Reuters) -A forest fire moved closer to a coal-fired power station in southwestern Turkey on Tuesday evening and wildfires raged near southern resorts for a seventh day as firefighting planes from Spain and Croatia joined the battle to quell them.

Eleven fires were still blazing, fanned by strong winds, temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104°F), and low humidity, officials said. Plumes of black smoke rose from hillsides and forests near the coastal resorts of Bodrum and Marmaris.

“The situation is very serious. The flames have come to the edge of the thermal power plant,” Muhammet Tokat, mayor of Milas to the east of the major resort Bodrum, said on Twitter.

He shared a video taken from a vessel at sea showing a fire blazing on a hillside under a night sky, a few hundred meters from the illuminated Kemerkoy power station and called for a plane or helicopter with night vision to be sent to the area.

Two firefighting planes from Spain and one from Croatia joined teams from Russia, Iran, Ukraine and Azerbaijan to battle blazes on Tuesday, after Turkey requested European support.

The mayors of the southern resort cities of Bodrum and Antalya have pleaded for more planes this week as the fires raged near Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.

A village near Milas was evacuated with flames engulfing houses and buildings, Reuters TV footage showed.

Opposition parties criticized President Tayyip Erdogan and his government for depleting firefighting resources over the years. Thousands also took to social media calling for Erdogan to step down, while others criticized the lack of resources and what they called inadequate preparations.

“To say it frankly, Turkey is not being managed,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). “The government of the (presidential) palace has rendered our state incapable.”

Responding to criticism that the government had rejected some offers of international help, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey had assessed many proposals, prioritizing offers of planes and helicopters.

He said some countries, including France and Greece, rescinded their offers because of their own needs and fires. Israel’s foreign ministry said it discussed the situation with Turkish officials but was told Turkey did not need assistance.

Turkey’s radio and television watchdog RTUK told broadcasters on Tuesday that negative coverage of the fires could encourage “an atmosphere of chaos”, harming the public’s and firefighters’ morale. It warned the media of the “harshest punishments” if they did not adhere to RTUK’s principles.

The heatwave that has fueled the fires came after months of exceptionally dry weather in Turkey’s southwest, according to maps issued by meteorological authorities.

Data from the European Forest Fire Information Service showed there have been three times as many fires as usual this year, while the more than 136,000 hectares burnt in Turkey were three times the area burnt on average in an entire year.

Eight people have been killed in a total of 156 wildfires which have erupted in the last week. There were no reports of further casualties on Tuesday.

The government is investigating the cause of the fires, including possible arson. Authorities caught one person who tried to light a fire outside a military compound in the southwestern province of Denizli, the Defense Ministry said.

Since Wednesday, thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and some tourists fled their hotels by boat or by road, although Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy said holidaymakers had returned within hours.

(Reporting by Mert Ozkan, Mehmet Emin Caliskan in Marmaris and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara, additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem; Editing by Dominic Evans/Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool)

Greeks urged to use less power as worst heatwave in decades tests grid

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek authorities urged citizens to conserve electricity as the worst heatwave in more than 30 years pushed the power system to its limits on Monday and wildfires continued to burn in many areas.

With the weather service forecasting temperatures as high as 44 Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) this week, energy authorities have warned that power demand will skyrocket, testing the capacity of an electricity grid already burdened by more than 3 million holiday makers during the summer tourist season.

“We’re dealing with the worst heatwave since 1987,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after attending a meeting at a power management center. “Everything humanly possible has been done to secure the country’s power supply. But we are also asking consumers to help us.”

As Europe’s summer of extreme weather continued, Greek firefighters have tackled more than 100 forest fires in the last 24 hours, including one on the island of Rhodes, just across the Strait of Marmara from Turkey, where fires have killed at least 8 people.

Authorities advised people to limit power usage at peak times in the afternoon and evening to prevent the electricity system collapsing, with households and businesses turning up air conditioners to seek relief from the brutal heat.

Greece’s power grid operator IPTO might ask big industries to voluntarily disconnect from the grid for a few hours and seek to import power from neighboring countries.

More than 1,000 people died during the week-long 1987 heatwave and authorities have opened air conditioned rooms for the homeless.

“It’s just very hot. I am not used to it. It’s been a lovely day but very, very hot,” said Gordon Teahy, a tourist from Scotland, sitting in the shade of a tree outside the Acropolis of Athens, which was shut for part of the day on Monday to protect visitors from the heat.

(Reporting by Phoebe Fronista and Angeliki Koutantou)

Russians head for lakes as Moscow swelters in near-record heat

PSKOV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – People are heading to lakes to cool off as a heatwave sweeps western Russia, driving temperatures in Moscow towards record highs.

The capital’s daytime temperatures are forecast at 30-35 degrees Celsius in the coming days and could break record highs on three days this week that have stood since 1936, 1951 and 2010, the RIA news agency reported.

In the western city of Pskov, near the border with Estonia, a lakeside beach was packed at the weekend with families trying to cool off in the oppressive heat.

“People are suffering, just suffering! They wait until evening for the end of the working day and then head straight for the lake,” said Iskak, a resident who did not give his last name.

Last month the air temperature in Moscow reached 34.8C (94.64 degrees Fahrenheit), the hottest recorded in the month of June in 142 years of monitoring, the city’s weather authorities were cited by Interfax news agency as saying.

In the capital on Monday, the temperature hit 31C. A polar bear napped in the shade at the zoo, while gardeners lamented their parched plants at one of the city’s botanical gardens.

Pavel Konstantinov, a meteorologist at Moscow State University, said the heatwave had been caused by a “blocking anticyclone” that had moved in from Scandinavia.

“The increase in the frequency of dangerous weather events and in particular heatwaves unavoidably accompany global warming,” he told Reuters.

“It’s already clear they will happen more and more often and we need to prepare for them not as extremely rare events as in the past, but as dangerous weather phenomena that occur in populated parts of Russia,” he said.

(Reporting by Dmitry Turlyun; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Texas, California call for power restraint during heatwave

(Reuters) -Texas and California urged consumers to conserve energy this week to reduce stress on the grid and avoid outages as homes and businesses crank up air conditioners to escape a scorching heatwave blanketing the U.S. Southwest.

High temperatures were expected to top 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) through the weekend in parts of several states including California, Arizona and Nevada.

“The public’s help is essential when extreme weather or other factors beyond our control put undue stress on the electric grid,” said Elliot Mainzer, chief executive of the California ISO, which operates the grid in most of California.

Over the past year, Texas and California imposed rotating or controlled outages to prevent more widespread collapses of their power systems – California during a heatwave in August 2020 and Texas during a brutal freeze in February 2021.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid operator, expects Thursday’s demand to break the June record set on Monday. In February, ERCOT imposed rotating outages as extreme cold froze natural gas pipes and wind turbines, leaving millions of customers without power – some for days.

ERCOT has been under fire for the design of its system, which is not connected to other U.S. grids to avoid federal oversight, and because they do not operate a “capacity” market that keeps power generation on stand-by during extreme weather events.

The California ISO said its Flex Alert, or call for conservation, “is critical because when temperatures hit triple digits across a wide geographic area, no state has enough energy to meet all the heightened demand.”

The ISO said evening is the most difficult time of day because demand remains high but solar energy diminishes. So far this year, solar has provided 22% of the grid’s power.

Real-time prices in ERCOT have remained below $100 per megawatt hour (MWh) since Tuesday evening as more power plants returned to service from forced outages that caused prices to soar over $1,900 for two 15-minute periods on Monday.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Edmund Blair)

More forced power outages in Taiwan as demand spikes amid heatwave, drought

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan imposed power cuts on Monday evening following a spike in demand amid a heatwave and drought and failure at a power plant, in the second such outage in a week, although far fewer homes were affected.

Power was restored by 1340 GMT, electricity provider Taipower said.

Taiwan, which major chip makers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) call home, already imposed phased blackouts on Thursday following an outage at a plant in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

TSMC, which has factories across the island, said it had seen “no impact so far” from Monday’s power cuts.

Taipower said 660,000 homes were affected by the power cuts, fewer than the roughly 4 million affected last week.

Taipower blamed a rise in demand coincided with the suspension of some generators due to a technical failure at the southern Hsinta Power Plant, the same facility that caused the problem last week.

The state-own company said that the worst drought to hit the island in more than half a century meant electricity generated by hydropower plants was insufficient to meet the unexpected demand on Monday evening, a record high for May.

By 8:40 p.m., only 40% of the supply had been restored in the coal- and gas-fired power plant, Taipower said.

Taiwan’s cabinet offered an apology and urged citizens to stay safe.

Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, said the outages showed the government’s power policy was inadequate and called for Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua to step down.

Taiwan is currently experiencing an unusually hot May with temperatures in parts of the island peaking at around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Gareth Jones, Louise Heavens, Nick Macfie and Raissa Kasolowsky)

In California heatwave, pandemic makes it hard to cool off

By Sharon Bernstein

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. (Reuters) – Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down air-conditioned shopping malls and movie theaters, Debera Diaz and her adult son Joshua could have ducked inside to escape the 109 degree Fahrenheit heat that roasted their town near Sacramento last week.

So the pair, who have been living in Debera’s Honda Civic since her divorce and eviction a few months ago, were grateful to find a cooling center in city hall, complete with masks and a showing of the Meryl Streep movie “The Devil Wears Prada.”

“You can’t even go to the library,” said Diaz, 58. “It was really bad.”

The coronavirus pandemic presents vexing challenges for officials trying to protect residents from extreme weather conditions. Many places people usually go are closed, and public cooling centers like the one in Rancho Cordova can only accept half the normal number of people because of physical distancing requirements. Staying with relatives or friends is also difficult because of health concerns.

At the same time, however, officials worry that fears of catching the virus will keep some vulnerable people from seeking shelter from extreme heat, or even seeking out evacuation centers when wildfire threatens.

Protecting residents from extreme conditions is an issue that increasingly confronts cities and counties across the United States, as storms, heat and wildfire force thousands to seek refuge. Many experts are even more concerned about how to shelter vulnerable residents from extreme cold should the pandemic still be raging in the winter.

“It’s changed how we approach this as a city,” Rancho Cordova Mayor David Sander said of the pandemic. In previous years, churches and nonprofits opened their doors to people seeking shelter, but now many are either closed or unable to help, he said.

The city’s cooling center, set up in a large meeting room, can only accommodate 10 people before workers have to open an adjoining room, Sander said. That is half or less than its usual capacity.

The city is not taking the temperatures of everyone who comes in but asks anyone with a self-reported fever to stay away.

Among those most likely to suffer from extreme weather are people without homes like the Diazes, and the elderly on fixed incomes who might not have air conditioning or, if they do, may feel that they can’t afford to use it, said Mary Jo Flynn-Nevins, the emergency operations coordinator for Sacramento County.

Public agencies opened eight cooling centers in the county during last week’s heatwave, each able to accommodate between 10 and 40 people, she said.

With more than 5,500 people homeless in Sacramento County last year, and around 225,000 elderly, space for residents to shelter from harsh weather can quickly run short, Flynn-Nevins said.

Statewide, cooling centers were opened in 24 of California’s 58 counties, according to the California Department of Emergency Services.

The administration of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom did not respond to requests for comment about the challenges of offering respite from the heat during the pandemic. But the state has encouraged residents to limit their use of electricity to avoid overtaxing the power grid and prompting blackouts.

When the temperature neared 100 Fahrenheit in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Magdalay Arriola went to the East Valley Adult Center, where she sat with a water bottle and portable lunch cooler, reading a book.

About 10 people, 6 feet apart and wearing masks, sat in the air-conditioned room. Employees in protective suits cleaned tables and chairs with disinfectant.

“The AC is not working in my house, and I was getting really overheated,” said Arriola, 55. “Hopefully this is safe.”

Her worry that the cooling center may not be safe from COVID-19 is common, said Chad Carter, a spokesman for the Red Cross. People also worry they may spread or contract the virus if they seek shelter with friends or family.

But they also must recognize the dangers of soaring temperatures, which include heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“Extreme heat is a risk just like COVID-19,” he said. “Extreme heat can be deadly.”

(Additional reporting by Lucy Nicholson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Heatwave and high winds threaten to reignite Australian wildfires

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Swathes of southeast Australia were bracing on Thursday for a days-long heatwave that threatens to stoke bushfires that have been burning for months.

As firefighters and residents prepared for the heightened danger, the New South Wales (NSW) state government launched a six-month inquiry to examine both the causes of and response to this season’s deadly wildfires.

“We don’t want to waste the opportunity to take on board any recommendations we need to adopt ahead of the bushfire season this year … as we approach summer of 2021,” said Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of NSW.

NSW state has been one of the hardest hit by bushfires, which started earlier than usual in September. The blazes have burnt out more than 11.7 million hectares (117,000 sq km) across Australia’s most populous states, killing at least 33 people and about 1 billion animals, and destroying 2,500 homes.

Fire danger warnings were issued on Thursday for several areas in South Australia state, where temperatures were forecast to exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and winds were expected to reach 35 kph (22 mph).

Among them was Kangaroo Island, a popular tourist destination that has already been razed by fires that killed two people. After a day of heat, by early evening no new fires had emerged.

“On Friday, there will also be hot and windy conditions, however, some parts of the Island may experience rainfall from mid-morning,” the state’s fire service said.

“A total Fire Ban is in place on the island, with a rating of SEVERE.”

In Victoria state, authorities issued a watch and act warning for people near Bendoc in the Snowy Mountains close to the New South Wales border.

“Don’t wait, leaving now is the safest option – conditions may change and get worse very quickly. Emergency Services may not be able to help you if you decide to stay,” emergency services officials said.

The severe heat and high winds are forecast to hit NSW and Victoria states from Friday threatening to spark new life into some of the 87 fires burning across the three states or create new blazes.

Australia’s dangerous summer weather has largely been driven by temperature variations in the Indian Ocean, which the country’s weather bureau said on Thursday were likely to keep conditions hot and dry until March.

Martin Webster, a NSW Rural Fire Service officer, highlighted the strains facing the state’s 74,000-strong volunteer brigade as the huge fires continued to burn.

“Our local crews have been actively involved in firefighting since August and we are still long way from being out of the woods, so we are talking six or seven months of firefighting,” Webster told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Here are Thursday’s key events in the bushfire crisis:

* There were five fires burning in the state of South Australia, 64 in New South Wales and 18 in Victoria.

* Berejiklian, firefighting officials and family of three U.S. firefighters killed in a plane crash in remote bushland last week, attended a memorial service where members of the aviation community paid their respects.

* Three firefighters who were trying to contain blazes in the Orroral Valley near Canberra were reported injured after a tree fell on their truck on Wednesday night, the ABC reported. Officials in the capital did not immediately return requests for information.

* Rating agency Moody’s on Wednesday warned increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters related to climate change would likely put at risk the ‘AAA’ credit rating of NSW.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Additional reporting by Colin Packham and Melanie Burton.; Editing by Jane Wardell, Lincoln Feast and Alison Williams)

Devastating bushfire conditions to worsen in Australia

By Lidia Kelly

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Rising temperatures, lightning strikes and erratic winds are set to fan wildfires in Australia in the week ahead, officials said on Sunday, with emergency crews already working day and night to contain more than 130 blazes.

The state of New South Wales, where 367 homes have been lost in the past week, reported 56 fires burning with about half yet to be contained, fire services said.

A heatwave forecast for this week is expected to heighten dangers in the state. The fires have already claimed four lives across the country’s east coast.

“We are expecting to see a worsening of conditions, particularly as we start heading into Tuesday and then continuing through Wednesday and Thursday again,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

Crews from interstate and New Zealand were expected to bolster firefighters’ efforts from Monday in combating the blazes and to relieve volunteers.

Australia’s bushfires are a common and deadly threat but the early outbreak this year in the southern spring has already claimed several lives and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Authorities in Queensland issued emergency warnings for part of the state, where nearly 80 fires were burning on Sunday and as the region braced for more hot and dry weather in the week ahead.

“Until we get significant rainfall, the fires will not go out,” Queensland’s acting Fire and Emergency Commissioner, Mike Wassing, said in televised remarks.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sam Holmes)