As wildfires rage across California, residents prepare for the latest in statewide rolling blackouts.
California ISO, which monitors the state’s electricity needs and power grid capabilities, issued a warning at noon saying, it is “forecasting a possible system reserve deficiency” between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“A persistent, record-breaking heat wave in California and the western states is causing a strain on supplies, and consumers should be prepared for likely rolling outages during the late afternoons and early evenings through Wednesday,” California ISO said in a statement. “There is not a sufficient amount of energy to meet the high amounts of demand during the heatwave.”
PG&E said the novel coronavirus pandemic has made “heat-outage forecast more uncertain due to shifts in electric loads because more people are staying home all day.”
The National Weather Service issued an unusual warning on Saturday about the possibility of “a fire-induced tornado.”
Dawn Johnson, a meteorologist with the service in Reno, Nev., said on Sunday that the agency had received reports of fire tornadoes in an area of Lassen County, Calif., about 25 miles northwest of Reno.
“It’s not like a typical tornado where it happens, everything clears out and you safely go and investigate.”
The high temperatures and explosive thunderstorms are a major concern for the men and women fighting the fires. But due to a massive fire cloud, known as a pyrocumulonimbus, which formed over the fire, and high winds that came into contact with the fire, whipped it into the air, and the pyrotechnic weather phenomenon was born.
But aside from the strange weather phenomenon, more than 4,500 buildings remained threatened by the wildfire, which was burning toward thick, dry brush in the Angeles National Forest. Firefighters already battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain in scorching heat faced more hurdles Saturday when hundreds of lightning strikes and winds up to 15 mph (24 kph) pushed the flames uphill.
The Lake Fire was just 12% contained as of Sunday morning and has burned nearly 28 square miles (72 square kilometers) of brush and trees. Fire officials said 33 buildings had been destroyed, including at least a dozen homes.
PG&E Urges Customers to Conserve Energy As Extreme Heat Continues Across Region - Sweltering Heat Waves Increase Energy Demand, Potential for Power Outage Activity. https://t.co/PjNKU4Zb3c pic.twitter.com/1ZJSFiYOOu— PG&E (@PGE4Me) August 16, 2020