July 23, 2006

Heat wave sears California as St. Louis copes

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Californians sweltered again on
Sunday in a heat wave that has set records across the state and
caused scattered power outages while St. Louis and New York
City struggled with outages that began last week.

As of Sunday afternoon, 100,000 homes and businesses were
without power in California, a survey of the state's big
utilities showed.

Even in usual havens from the heat like San Francisco,
temperatures soared to records on the weekend with the Bay City
hitting 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) on Saturday. In
places used to the heat like Palm Springs and the San Fernando
Valley near Los Angeles, the heat wave is making history. In
Woodland Hills in the Valley, the temperature on Sunday hit at
least 100 (37.7 Celsius) for the 18th straight day.

An estimated 800,000 Californians experienced at least
temporary loss of electricity during the weekend as air
conditioners battled temperatures as high as 122 degrees
Fahrenheit (50 Celsius) in Palm Springs, California, and more
than 110 degrees (43 Celsius) in the San Fernando Valley near
Los Angeles and the Central Valley east of San Francisco.

In the northern part of the state on Saturday Sacramento
hit a record 109 degrees (42.7 Celsius) and 112-degree (44.4
Celsius) readings were reported in Red Bluff, Stockton and

Southern California's temperatures fell a bit on Sunday but
were expected to rise again on Monday when the state's power
grid is expected to have yet another day of record demand. Even
with the high demand, no emergency blackouts are foreseen, said
Gregg Fishman, spokesman for California Independent System
Operator, the manager of the grid.

The California power grid operator called a "Stage One"
power emergency on Saturday, the first of the summer, meaning
there was little reserve electricity available.

In Missouri and Illinois, the Red Cross was sheltering
people from 750 homes and had delivered 50,000 meals to homes
without electricity.

"We kept the shelters open over the weekend even though it
cooled a little," said Jessica Willingham of the St. Louis Area
Red Cross. She noted that the highs on Saturday and Sunday in
St. Louis were in the mid- to upper-80s.

"Currently, it's 87 degrees (30 Celsius) so that's not too
bad but if you haven't had power since Wednesday," she said
Sunday evening. "That makes it a little tough."

About 300,000 homes and businesses remained without power
after violent storms last week in St. Louis.

President Bush approved Missouri's request for expedited
disaster relief on Friday, clearing the way for federal help.

A total of 1.1 million homes and businesses have been
without power at some point since Wednesday night, said Ameren
Corp., owner of the local power company.

In New York City, about 9,000 customers remained without
power on Sunday in the borough of Queens, down from 25,000
powerless homes and businesses last Thursday, said Mike
Clendenin of Consolidated Edison.