Sunday, July 23, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Californians braced for more sweltering heat, after triple-digit temperatures over the weekend smashed records across the state, strained air conditioners and prompted scattered power outages.

No relief was expected until at least midweek from a weather front that sent temperatures soaring even along the normally cool California coast and brought Midwest-style humidity into the usually arid Central Valley.

Records were set or tied Saturday at all five of the National Weather Service’s recording locations in the Central Valley: 109 degrees in Sacramento, 111 in Redding, and 112 in Red Bluff, Stockton and Modesto.

A major Northern California power plant tripped off line as temperatures climbed, reducing electricity reserves below acceptable levels and prompting the state’s grid manager to declare a “stage one emergency” while calling for conservation.

Emergency workers scrambled to help heat-exposure victims in downtown Los Angeles, where 99-degree temperatures broke the 96-degree record set in 1960. Temperatures in the city’s Woodland Hills section hit a record 119 degrees, topping the 116-degree high set in 1985.

“Today, I realized I can’t function with just a fan,” Woodland Hills resident Susan Mitnik told the Los Angeles Times. “It feels like everything is radiating heat. My head begins to pound.”

Records also were set throughout the San Francisco Bay area, including Livermore at 115 degrees, San Rafael at 108 degrees and San Jose at 102 degrees, the weather service said. San Francisco’s 87 degrees topped an 81-degree record set in 1917.

Power use across the state broke records Friday and again Saturday — unusual because it was the weekend.

“We are drawing on all available power,” said Paul Moreno, a spokesman for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), which serves the northern and central parts of the state.

The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s power grid, isn’t predicting deliberate rolling blackouts of the sort that darkened the state during the shortages of 2000 and 2001.

But localized outages in the Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco Bay areas were blamed on high demand that overloaded equipment. More than 90,000 customers in the Bay Area were without power early yesterday, said PG&E spokeswoman Jana Schuering.

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