Bay Area heat wave: triple-digit temperatures return Thursday

Triple-digit temperatures are expected to return Thursday to scorch much of the Bay Area, again threatening to strain the region’s power grid and prompting calls for residents to take refuge indoors as the worst of a relentless heat wave is expected to finally come to a close.

By Thursday afternoon, temperatures are forecast to flirt with daily record highs in some cities, potentially reaching 109 in Livermore and Santa Rosa, 106 in Gilroy and 100 in San Jose, according to the National Weather Service.

But by this evening, a coastal marine layer is expected to usher in cooler weather, leading to highs in the 70s and 80s for most of the region on Friday and into the weekend, though some inland areas could still approach 100.

“Hang on, relief is in sight,” said weather service meteorologist Brooke Bingaman.

Until then, ​​Californians will continue to be asked to do their part to avoid rolling blackouts, which are initiated to avoid overloading the power grid during a heat wave as people crank their air conditioning and while appliances use more energy to stay cool.

On Thursday, the state’s Independent System Operator issued a Flex Alert for the ninth consecutive day, this one from 3-10 p.m. The seven-hour alert is the longest during this week’s heat wave and is two hours longer than alerts issued Wednesday.

After planned outages were nearly ordered Tuesday, the state will be closely monitoring the power grid again Thursday for the possibility of rolling blackouts.

A miscommunication on Tuesday left customers in several Bay Area cities without power, even before blackouts were officially called.

Those rare pre-emptive and deliberate outages are different from the sporadic ones plaguing neighborhoods throughout the region, which are usually caused by equipment failures.

This week’s heat wave has already caused power outages for at least 84,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers — including three hospitals — in the South Bay alone.

On Thursday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo blasted the utility for the outages.

“I have deep concerns about the safety of our residents and the viability of San Jose small businesses struggling against ongoing failures of a power grid hampered by poor maintenance and outdated equipment,” said Liccardo in a statement. “The march of climate change will continue, but other California cities subjected to far worse heat do not suffer the rate of power outages as the City of San Jose.”

Ahead of Thursday’s blistering temperatures, the National Weather Service issued heat alerts for most of the Bay Area, reminding residents to stay out of the sun, keep hydrated and check on vulnerable neighbors and relatives.

While cooler weather should provide a welcome reprieve starting Friday, there’s some concern a hurricane off the coast of Mexico could bring dry lightning to Northern California in the next few days.

In August 2020, dry lightning lightning storms ignited a series of massive wildfires across the greater Bay Area.

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