The unprecedented heatwave has placed nearly 200 million Americans on “dangerously hot conditions” alerts. With temperatures soaring above 100F (38°C) in major cities, energy providers urge citizens to conserve air-conditioning and electricity usage to avoid potential blackouts. The power grid is under strain as millions of people crank up their air conditioners to stay cool.

Around 88% of US households utilise air-conditioning, as revealed by the 2020 Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

PJM Interconnection, responsible for supplying power to 13 states and Washington DC, is on high alert for potential capacity issues on the power grid. The combination of extreme heat and humidity is expected to push temperatures above 90F (32°C), leading to a significant increase in electricity consumption.

Con Edison, a leading energy provider in New York, is concerned that the strain on the electric system could result in localised outages if demand rises unchecked. With the heat index predicted to reach 110°F (43°C) in New York City, the situation is especially critical in urban centres.

Local authorities are helping residents cope with extreme conditions. New York City, for example, is extending swimming pool hours and establishing cooling centres to assist those without air-conditioning access. These measures aim to provide much-needed relief and a safe haven for vulnerable populations during the relentless heatwave.

With millions seeking refuge in climate-controlled environments, the strain on the power grid continues to escalate.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued warnings that the heatwave will affect the eastern half of the country. Coastal areas from Virginia to Washington DC are bracing for potentially the hottest days of the summer, with heat indexes expected to soar above 110°F(43°C). Forecasters predict that numerous locations will break daytime high-temperature records, with warm nighttime lows anticipated through Saturday morning.

The southern US, particularly Phoenix, Arizona, has already grappled with extreme heat, enduring a record 15 consecutive days with temperatures surpassing 115F and an astounding 28-day stretch with temperatures reaching at least 110°F (43°C).

Added to the weather woes, some areas in the Midwest are now facing an additional threat of flash flooding due to severe thunderstorms in parts of the Great Lakes and Mid-Missouri Valley, as warned by the NWS.