Opinion: The heat wave nearly broke our power grid and some of our readers had to pay higher power rates
(Published Oct 04, 2016)
This past weekend was a record breaking heat wave. With temperatures that peaked at 96-degree-fahrenheit (34 Celsius) just before noon on July 31, the National Weather Service in Portland, Ore., declared a heat wave in the city of Eugene and parts of Lane County. Temperatures hit 100, and were expected to break the 100-degree-fahrenheit mark by Thursday.
Not everyone was as unhappy about the heat. People in Eugene and parts of Lane County were able to stay inside. They drank warm beverages, kept cool with the help of air conditioning, and didn’t suffer a lot of discomfort.
But a lot of the rest of us were affected by high temperatures that led to the state of Oregon having its hottest summer so far in history.
That’s even despite the fact that we had record snowpack (water content) in our reservoirs, and water was flowing from our snow melts in streams and lakes. The rivers and streams were flowing faster than normal, and in some places were up to double their normal flow due to the heat.
At least for us Oregonians, we had our power going, our cool, refreshing showers, our air conditioning and our running water. Not that everyone else in the state was completely happy about that.
With the heat and record snowpack, we were left with water issues, and water is expensive. If it doesn’t flow into our reservoirs, it flows into our rivers and streams, which can cause damage to our water quality. And the state of Oregon, and especially our rivers and streams, was at risk.
In Oregon, a drought is defined as an ongoing period of abnormally low precipitation (less than 15 percent of normal), as well as a period when the state has less than six inches (150 millimeters) of precipitation per year. A drought may last for more than a year, or may be broken only by precipitation.
Drought conditions can sometimes result in water shortages, which can cause restrictions in the distribution of water. That’s not the case this year, so we have no water issues for consumers.
But the water flowing into our reservoirs and rivers and streams was just fine.
But, there were areas in our state that were suffering drought conditions. Those are people with the