Thousands of residents across Southern California woke up without power Thursday after a brutal heat wave led to near record-high demand on power grids and triggered blackouts in some of the hardest hit areas of Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties.
Southern California Edison sustained the biggest outages Wednesday, with blackouts reportedly affecting more than 15,000 customers from Hemet and Murrieta to Compton and Baldwin Park.
A map of the outages on Edison’s website showed wide swaths of Southern California’s inland valleys affected by the outage, where temperatures are expected to climb into the upper 90s and triple digits for a third straight day.
Flash flood watchers were in effect from L.A. County mountain areas as temperatures were rising Thursday afternoon. Camarillo hit a new high of 92 for the day, and UCLA tied a record at 95.
Because of warm ocean temperatures and high humidity, it barely cooled off overnight, and shade and wind can’t help those without air conditioning, the National Weather Service said.
“It’s still going to be very humid, so fans and opening windows aren’t going to cut it,” said meteorologist Stefanie Sullivan.
She recommended that people without power try to find city or county cooling centers or other public buildings with air conditioning.
Sullivan said temperatures will remain just as high as they have the previous two days and that there’s a greater chance of isolated, heavy downpours and thunderstorms reaching to the coast.
In Los Angeles, up to 10,000 customers lost power overnight Wednesday, said Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Vonda Paige. About 5,000 customers remained without power as of 6 a.m. Thursday with no estimate on when it would be restored, she said.
LADWP reported that it experienced its highest demand on the grid Wednesday since a heat wave last year.
It’s unclear what triggered the outages, but agency spokeswoman Kim Hughes said many may be due to overuse during the heat wave.
“When it’s so hot, people don’t turn off anything. We want to remind people to give their equipment a break for an hour or two,” she said.
The power outages capped a day in which many endured sweltering heat, powerful downpours or lightning strikes.
In Agua Dulce, a mudslide was reported after an intense downpour. Some beaches were closed in Orange County when lightning was seen in the area. A man and woman in Santa Ana had to be rescued from a flood control channel after waters swiftly rose, authorities said.
Lightning strikes sparked fires in Saugus, Valencia, Castaic and Canyon Country.
Engine strike teams were sent to parts of northern L.A. County to watch for flooding and lightning in the area, said Los Angeles County Fire Department Supervisor Cheryl Sims.
A small brush fire ignited in Malibu, which was quickly brought under control by firefighters.
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