California’s latest blackouts have become yet another stark reminder of the Golden State’s battle with Mother Nature.
Barely months after a summer heat wave prompted its first rolling blackouts in almost two decades, the state’s largest utility began cutting power again, affecting an estimated 1.1 million people. This time, it was to prevent live wires from toppling into dry brush and sparking blazes as violent winds rattled Northern California.
50,820 Million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, most recent annual data
Tepic, MexicoMost polluted air today, in sensor range +0.97° C Sep. 2020 increase in global temperature vs. 1900s average
$69.9B Renewable power investment worldwide in Q2 2020 -38.32% Today’s arctic ice area vs. historic average
PG&E Corp. shut off electricity to 225,000 homes and businesses in areas mostly north of San Francisco on Sunday and was set to turn off power to an additional 136,000 customers in places including the East Bay and South Bay in the evening, as gusts exceeding 50 miles (80 kilometers) an hour swept through an area already bone-dry from heat and drought. Utilities in Southern California warned they may need to cut power, too.
“This is the strongest event we have seen so far this year,” said Karleisa Rogacheski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. It’s some of most dangerous weather the state has seen since the Camp Fire erupted in 2018, killing 85 people, she said.
At least three blazes have broken out north of Sacramento mid Sunday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. PG&E said it may restore power starting Monday afternoon, though some customers may be left in the dark through Tuesday.
The brutal winds, fires and blackouts are the latest blow for a state that’s been battered by violent weather and has already seen a record 4.1 million acres (1.66 million hectares) scorched this year, which cost $1.1 billion to battle. State officials say that climate change is bringing more intense and frequent heat waves and drought, making California more vulnerable to catastrophic fires.
“This is the fire weather forecast I was hoping wouldn’t come to pass, given all that has already transpired in 2020,” climate scientist Daniel Swain tweeted before the power cuts.
This is the fire weather forecast I was hoping wouldn’t come to pass, given all that has already transpired in 2020: Very strong offshore winds, coupled w/exceptionally low humidity & record-dry vegetation, will bring extremely critical wildfire risk Sun/Mon. 1/3 #CAwx #CAfire10:31 PM · Oct 22, 2020
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