Viridian Note 00190: Austin Heatwave

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
Austin Texas, temperature records, brownouts

Attention Conservation Notice: Of local interest. Though, come to think of it, a Greenhouse disaster iseems to be afflicting the home town of a Presidential candidate.

Entries in the Viridian Magazine Cover Contest:

And the winner is: L. J. Aurbach (^^^^^^^******) for his entry at: L. J. Aurbach has been sent his well-deserved prize, a copy of COVER STORY: American Magazine Covers 1900-1950.

Austin American-Statesman, Wednesday, September 6, 02000. Front-page news, A1.

"For the second straight day, heat makes history in Austin

"Power outages, wildfires leave thousands in lurch

by Jason Spender, Austin-American staff

"Wildfires roared, paramedics scrambled and football games were cancelled Tuesday while Central Texas baked under the hottest temperatures ever recorded."

(((You can tell this is Texan journalism because of those football games.)))

"Austin's high of 112 degrees erased Monday's record of 110 degrees, leaving even the professionals grasping for adjectives.

"'This is crazy,' said meteorologist Robert Blaha of the National Weather Service."

(((Austin's TV weathermen were even more tongue-tied, though their grasping for adjectives somehow never lit on the useful modifier, "Greenhouse.")))

"No US city was hotter Tuesday, although New Braunfels, Cotulla and Hondo matched Austin's 112." (((Luckless Round Rock, home of Dell Computer, was 113 back on Monday, however.)))

"More than 60 wildfires burned at least 8,000 acres across Texas, including a Bastrop County wildfire that destroyed two homes and a 1,600-acre blaze near Kerrville

that forced the evacuation of 300 houses and businesses."
(((It's much, much cooler today == merely in the mid-90s
== but we haven't yet touched on the issue of this
summer's Texan droughts and the consequent wildfires.)))

"Austin's demand for electricity set records and burned out a transfomer, leaving 4,000 customers without power in the afternoon heat." (((Today Austin blew out a second transformer, blacking-out a different 5,000 people, though only for two hours. Thanks for averting massive

civilian casualties,

"Water use rose to levels not seen since mandatory
restrictions began == prompting water officials to keep
the restrictions in place at least until October." (...)

"Air conditioners churned all day Tuesday as Austin
residents consumed a record 2,300 megawatts of electricity
== the fifth new record this summer.

"'The system is going to a point it's never been to before,' power company spokesman Ed Clark said.

"At times, the utility was pushed beyond its limits. About 4,000 homes and businesses along MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) in Northwest Austin lost electricity when an overburdened transformer blew out at 3:30 pm, Clark said. Most had their power restored within an hour. Ten transformers gve out Monday, leaving 6,000 customers temporarily without power, Clark said. (...) (((This makes no distinction between those little pole transformers, which blow like popcorn in high heat, and the big ground stations. The big one that blew also took out the local traffic signals, leading to a scary snarl of traffic, in deadly heat, quite near my neighborhood.)))

"Utilities in Houston and Dallas were ordered to divert service from some commercial customers to make up for a statewide shortfall, said Tom Noel, chief executive officer of the Taylor-based Electric Reliability Council of Texas. (((California, here we come.)))

(...) "Firefighting crews from Georgia, South Carolina and Florida are in Texas to fight a growing number of wildfires" (...) (((I'd like to assure newcomers to Texas that Texas didn't used to be like this.)))

(((The weather toll to date this summer: 40 days of 100+ temperatures, seven consecutive days of record- setting heat. The drought is severe as well, and far from over. Forecasters predict no rains till October and everything not irrigated is well and truly parched. It's

been comical to watch the weather coverage over the past
seven days == TV weatherpeople been missing their
temperature marks by a country mile. One has to suspect
that their algorithms are somehow outdated.

(((I would not suggest you come to Austin this month; we're really not our usual raffish, dewy, River City selves. Personally, I'm heading for San Francisco this weekend, for a refreshing change of blackouts. However, weekend after next, it's party time! I'm hosting a writer's conference here at the Viridian Vatican. We'll have the traditional house party afterward, on the night of the 16th. Do let me know if you'd care to drop by. We long-suffering Austinites will have all the jolly camaraderie of Britons in a Blitz shelter, plus some free beer.)))

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