An upcoming heat wave could lead to power outages in the central and eastern U.S., including the major metropolitan areas of New York City, Washington and Chicago, experts say.
As temperatures rise and more people turn to their air conditioners for relief, the demand for power can become overwhelming. Power companies are preparing for the worst and asking customers to be mindful of their electricity use.
“The demand for power can increase as the heat wave goes on because people become less resistant – more willing to turn their air conditioning on and up,” said Allan Drury, a spokesman for Con Edison in New York.
A widespread blackout Saturday in New York City left much of Manhattan without electricity. That outage was caused not by heat but by a transformer fire, according to New York fire officials. Con Edison estimates that about 73,000 people were without power during the blackout.
With temperatures forecast to reach 100 degrees in New York City by Saturday, according to the Weather Channel, Con Edison warned of additional blackouts, though on a smaller scale.
Very hot and humid conditions are expected across the Eastern US for the end of the week into the weekend. In addition to extremely hot daytime temperatures, overnight lows in most areas are not expected for fall below the mid-upper 70s, or even the lower 80s in some urban areas. pic.twitter.com/jtgWH3rnvt
— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) July 16, 2019
With heat and humidity as intense as predicted, Con Edison is prepared for “scattered outages” in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, Drury said Tuesday.
Manhattan is served exclusively by underground delivery systems that inevitably heat up as the ground warms, and those systems are further strained by increased demand for power, Drury said.