On August 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom reported that the state was combating almost 367 known fires. On September 5, 2020, a searing fire broke out in California’s Sierra National Forest. Hundreds of campers who were out enjoying their stay at a popular camping area in the forest were rescued in military helicopters. The fires prompted a sudden, almost unbearable rise in temperatures that strained the state’s main electrical grid. The exceptionally high temperatures resulted in an increase in power consumption across California and transmissions were lost due to the damages caused by the wildfires in the supplies.
Here’s how the state dealt with the power emergency:
An unstoppable fire
Out of the 207 people rescued by the authorities from Sierra National Forest, two people were reported to have suffered severe injuries while ten people had received moderate burns. California has been battling with its wildfires for more than a month with 16,750 firefighters working to contain the 29 major wildfires across the state.
As a result of the fire in Sierra National Forest, some homes and businesses suffered losses, and the average temperature in downtown Los Angeles reached 44 Celsius. The nearby Woodland Hills neighbourhood of the San Fernando Valley saw a record-breaking temperature of 49.4 Celsius, which is the highest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, downtown San Francisco also saw a record high of 37.7 degrees, bearing bad air quality and extreme humidity for the residents.
California under emergency
Owing to the high temperatures in the state, weather service in Sacramento tweeted that almost 99% of Californians were under excessive heat warning that day. Following this, the California Independent System Operator said nearly 3 million residents might face prolonged power outages if people didn’t reduce their electricity consumption.
Soon after, at around 7 p.m., they declared an emergency saying power outages were inevitable as a transmission line between Oregon and California had unexpectedly gone offline. This induced an uncertain feeling among Californians who weren’t sure when they’d be getting power back.
However, at about 8:30 p.m., the department issued another statement saying the grid controllers ordered no outages. The power consumption of Californians had paid off.
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