Sunrise from Otay Mountain. Image from UCSD HPWREN camera network

As the heat wave continues, authorities added a Friday Flex Alert, continuing the call for residents to voluntarily cut their power use in hopes of reducing strain on California’s power grid.

According to the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s power grid, the new Flex Alert will be in effect from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.

That’s in addition to the one set for 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday.

The baking heatwave that has gripped much of the San Diego region and spread throughout the Southwest for three days reached east Thursday, while punishing the hardest-hit areas with record high temperatures that have strained power systems.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings for the Southwest, including much of California, Arizona, southern Nevada and southern Utah.

On Thursday, the heat advisories extended to parts of the Central Plains, including Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

“It’s a pretty big impact with respect to where the record heat is,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Oravec said from the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Palm Springs tied its all-time high, 123 degrees, Thursday, for the first time since 1995. Death Valley National Park, typically one of the hottest spots in the world, recorded a temperature of 129 degrees Wednesday.

With air conditioners cranked up in homes and businesses, California and Texas urged consumers to conserve energy during peak times to avoid blackouts.

“The public’s help is essential when extreme weather or other factors beyond our control put undue stress on the electric grid,” said Elliot Mainzer, chief executive of the Cal-ISO, which operates the grid in most of California.

A Flex Alert is a call for voluntary energy conservation, essentially a plea for residents across the state to turn off appliances to reduce overall demand and lower the risk of outages.

Cal-ISO had initially projected it would have adequate energy supplies through Thursday, although it urged residents “to remain vigilant” in case demand suddenly threatened power reserves.

According to the agency, residents should pre-cool their homes, for instance, by closing window coverings to preserve cool air indoors.

Once the alert takes effect, residents should set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using major appliances and turn off all unnecessary lights.

The NWS also issued red flag warnings across the Southwest regarding wildfire danger. Relief should come Sunday as temperatures in the Southwest slowly grow more moderate.

– From Reuters and City News Service

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