Cooling centres to combat US heatwave

Wednesday 18th Jul 2012 by theWeather Club

As we in Britain continue to slosh about our daily lives wondering if it’s worth dodging the present deluge as we are sure to be caught by the next, our cousins on the other side of the pond are having precisely the opposite problem. 

The heat wave that has had parts of the US in its grip for several weeks is forecast to get even more intense in several parts of the country. In New York where predictions have increasing humidity and temperatures soaring to 33°C (91°F) degrees, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has opened cooling centres throughout the city to help vulnerable people deal with the effects of the continuing high temperatures. Cooling centres are air conditioned places, such as, Salvation Army community centres, and public libraries that are open to the public during heat emergencies.

The OEM advised local residents to take precautions against the heat wave especially the elderly and those with chronic health problems or mental disability.  It advises them to turn on their air conditioning to stay cool or go to places that have air conditioning, and drink water regularly to prevent dehydration, and avoid excessive exercise especially in the hottest time of the day. The OEM is also asking locals to regularly check on vulnerable family, friends, and neighbours, especially if they don't have air conditioning or live alone.

To compound matters several manhole fires have broken out in the city cutting power and forcing people outside into the heat as buildings are evacuated. “The overheating of the wires causes them to burn, which, in turn, obviously causes the fire,” battalion Chief Robert McBride told reporters. “And when wires burn underground, that's when the gases build up, and that's when we have the elevated levels of carbon monoxide.”

Further inland the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO), which operates the power grid in all or part of 11 U.S. Midwest states such as Chicago where temperatures have reached 36°C (98°F), forecast demand for electricity could reach 98,300 megawatts (MW) on Tuesday. That is very close to the system's all-time peak of 98,526 MW.