Record-breaking heat scorches the American Southwest


Salt fields inside Death Valley National Park in California, USA during a heat wave. Photo: AFP
Salt fields inside Death Valley National Park in California, USA during a heat wave. Photo: AFP

An extreme heat wave that broke records across the southwestern US on Monday threatened to cripple the electrical system as people increased use of air conditioners.

California's grid operators issued the latest warning on June 18 asking households across the state to conserve energy in the late afternoon and evening when demand is high.

The record heat comes amid a multi-year drought in the southwest that has strained power grids in California and Texas and fueled wildfires.

"It feels like the end of the world with record-breaking heat, smoke from wildfires tearing through the Sonoran Desert, and news of drought. Just a 10-minute walk from my house to the inner city rail makes me dizzy." - Reuters quoted Emily Kirkland, media organizer for a nonprofit group Phoenix.

The National Weather Service has issued extreme heat warnings for five states - California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and parts of Colorado. The bulletin warns that rising temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius can be dangerous.

"Very hot weather will continue in these areas through June 19 then cools down next week. Until then be cautious as heat can be deadly. Most importantly, always drink enough. water, never leave small children or pets in a hot car," the Los Angeles-area National Weather Service said on Twitter.

Temperature records have been reached or broken in Salt Lake City, Palm Springs and many other places, with an estimated temperature in Phoenix on June 18 of 47 degrees Celsius.

"It's miserable, you literally shouldn't leave the house unless you have to," said Hannah Knight, 20, a waitress at The Coronado cafe in Phoenix.

Many other cities are predicted to close or break daily temperature records during this heatwave in the US, including Las Vegas with the highest forecast of 45 degrees Celsius.

An area of ​​high pressure in the southwestern United States is believed to be the cause of this heat wave.

Power systems in Texas and California have been strained so far, and if people don't save energy by late afternoon, it's possible that power operators will have to cut off power continuously to keep the system running.

In Texas demand hit a record June 14. California's electricity demand peaked June 17 at 41,364 megawatts and is expected to surpass this level on June 18. One megawatt can power about 200 homes on a hot day.

The heatwave stretching into the midwest prompted weather agencies to issue warnings for Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, before a strong cooling front hit over the weekend.

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