Ruthless Heat Scorches California Again, Raising Fire Risk

A boat passes in front of the San Francisco skyline as seen from the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

A second day of unrelenting heat is scorching California, sending temperatures to near record levels and raising risk of wildfires.

Temperatures surged past 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) in parts of Northern California Tuesday, with heat advisories in effect across the state. Sacramento was forecast to hit 103 degrees.

Wholesale electricity prices at a Northern California hub surged Tuesday to an average $369.08 a megawatt-hour in the hour ending at 11 a.m, the highest for that time of day in more than a year, power grid data compiled by Bloomberg show.

A heat wave sent power prices to the highest in a year

The hot weather, combined with high winds, forced utility giant
PG&E Corp.
to shut off power to thousands of customers in northern California over the weekend to avoid the kind of catastrophic wildfires that broke out last year.

While demand has risen as people blast air conditioners, California’s grid manager said the state continues to have enough electricity on hand.

In San Francisco, temperatures hit 97 degrees on Monday, breaking a record for the day set in 1994, the National Weather Service said. Stockton tied a record for the day of 105, and Santa Rosa set a daily record of 100.

Relief is expected in the Bay Area Wednesday, with highs in San Francisco in the mid 70s.

The heat is forecast to spread across other parts of the western U.S. later this week. Portland is expected to hit 95 degrees Tuesday — tying a 1941 record for the date — and rise to 97 on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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