High Temperatures Cause Heavy Demand for Electricity : Record-Setting Heat Wave Bakes South
Southern states baked in sweltering temperatures for a fourth consecutive day Tuesday in a heat wave that caused one death in Florida, record electricity consumption across four states and a strong sellers’ market for fans.
Temperatures near or above 100 degrees have been common since Saturday in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi.
The Southern Co., a utility that serves most of Georgia and Alabama and parts of Mississippi and Florida, reported a record demand for 22,921,000 kilowatts of electricity Tuesday afternoon. The figure broke Monday’s record by 272,000 kilowatts.
“I had a woman come in this morning and buy a pool for her dog,” said Paul Spivey, a manager of a K mart in Anderson, S.C. “She said she found the dog in the birdbath.”
No Immediate Relief
The National Weather Service predicted no immediate relief, with high temperatures and no rain expected all week.
Thermometers at Cecil Field Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla., rose to 103 degrees Tuesday, while in Augusta, Ga., a reading of 101 degrees broke a record for the date that had stood since 1911. Athens, Ga., sizzled to a record high of 100, and Montgomery, Ala., set a record with a reading of 101.
Other records Tuesday included 96 at Greer, S.C.; 97 at Mobile, Ala.; 98 at Orlando, Fla., and 97 at Pensacola, Fla.
A 42-year-old woman died of a heat-induced heart attack Monday in Jacksonville, her brother quoted a doctor as saying. A police report said rescue workers found the woman collapsed with no blood pressure and a body temperature of 108 degrees.
Heat Lingers Overnight
There has been little relief from the heat, even at night. Atlanta recorded its highest overnight low temperature for any June 3 when it went down only to 75 degrees at dawn Monday.
Georgia agriculture officials said the heat has killed about 277,400 head of poultry during the past three days, and the weather service said the heat could threaten other livestock and non-irrigated crops.
Farmers in southern Alabama rigged showers to cool cattle and hogs, and the Alabama Poultry and Egg Assn. said excessive heat suffocated up to 100,000 chickens last weekend. Millions of broilers are grown each year in Alabama.
The heat wave is being caused by warm air swinging around a high pressure system called a subsidence, 150 miles west of Tampa, Fla., said Marvin Maddox, meteorologist for the weather service in Atlanta.
Because the air is coming from the Plains, it is dry, with little chance of cooling thunderstorms, he said. West of the hot air flow, however, thunderstorms spread Tuesday from the middle Mississippi Valley to the Southwest, dumping up to 3 inches of rain on parts of Texas.
Such heat is a relatively common phenomenon, said Bill Lerner of the weather service in Atlanta.
However, “it is kind of early in the summer to get it this persistently,” he said.
People across the South were urged to stay indoors when possible, limit strenuous activity and drink plenty of fluids if they must be outside.
“It feels like 300 degrees up here,” said construction worker Virgil Allen, putting a new coat of asphalt on a roof in Knoxville, Tenn. “You don’t stand in one place too long or your feet will begin to burn.”
Outdoor training at the Parris Island Marine Corps Training Station in Beaufort, S.C., was stopped Monday when the temperature reached 103 degrees on its way to a high of 108.6, the hottest spot in the state. Training resumed Tuesday after a slight drop in the temperature.