Though summer officially begins on Tuesday, millions of Americans have already been buffeted by triple-digit temperatures and dangerously high heat, which is only expected to continue as a second wave of extreme heat creeps into the eastern and southern US.
Last week, an enormous heat dome across the eastern US and the Midwest created record high temperatures in several cities – and intensified the misery for some communities that were already battling power outages following a series of severe storms.
Now, more brutally high temperatures are expected across the Midwest and into the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday and into the rest of the week.
Monday brought record high temperatures for cities in the central US, including multiple records set in Texas. Both Houston and Victoria, Texas, and St. Cloud, Missouri, topped their previous records with highs of 101 degrees.
Over 100 daily high-temperature records could be set between Tuesday and Saturday, mainly across the East and South. Night temperatures are not expected to offer much of a reprieve, as over 80 warm low temperatures records could be broken this week.
As of Tuesday morning, over 20 million people are under heat advisories, particularly in large stretches of the central US and in parts of California. In the coming days, heat will build to temperatures well above 90 degrees across much of the East and Southwest and across parts of California.
About 70% of the US population will endure temperatures in the 90s during this week, while nearly 20% of people are expected to be struck by temperatures over 100 degrees. In all, more than 100 record high temperatures could be reached this week.
The extreme heat conditions can be detrimental to a person’s health, especially for the elderly, children and those who experience chronic illnesses or mental health problems.
Earlier this year, US power regulator NERC warned that extreme temperatures and other environmental factors could cause power grid failures across vast portions of the country this summer.
In anticipation, power companies across the Southeast say they are preparing for the additional strain that will come when droves of heat-stricken people retreat indoors for air conditioning relief.
“This is our ‘Super Bowl’ that we prepare all year for,” Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) spokesperson Scott Fiedler said in a statement to CNN. “TVA is extremely well-positioned to meet power demand during this week’s hot weather. As you know, temperature and load go hand in hand. So we should see high loads the rest of this week.”
Last week’s power demand was record-setting for TVA, which saw over 31,000 megawatts used on Thursday, just days after surpassing the 31,000 megawatt mark on June 13, Fiedler said.
Both Georgia Power and Duke Energy Carolinas, which serve markets in North Carolina and South Carolina, said they are prepared for the increased demand the blistering temperatures will bring.
Duke Energy Carolinas saw a record summer usage of 21,000 megawatt-hours of electricity on June 13, eclipsing its previous summer record set in July 2016, the company said in a release.
Duke Energy Process, the company’s other Carolina utility, did not break any records, but the two companies combined had a peak usage record of 34,079 megawatt hours, besting the old record set in July 2020, the release said.
Entergy, which services parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Orleans, and Texas said the company is expecting to see unprecedented levels of energy usage this week.
“We have a detailed plan for extreme hot weather, which includes our power plants and transmission operators taking steps to maintain the balance of supply and demand on the grid and actions to reduce the risk of generation or transmission facilities tripping offline,” the Entergy news release said.