Tulsa's temperatures, water usage continue to soar
BY P.J. LASSEK & KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
5/31/12 at 8:03 AM
Related story: Heat is taking toll on cars, drivers.
From the Tulsa World weather blog: A look at Tulsa's history with triple-digit heat.
Tulsa World Weather: Stay updated on the latest weather reports with complete coverage from the National Weather Service in Tulsa.
Tulsa set a record-high temperature of 112 degrees Tuesday as the possibility of water rationing loomed and the heat-related death toll statewide reached 11.
Wednesday promises more of the same, with the high temperature expected to be 114 - just shy of the city's all-time high of 115 on Aug. 10, 1936.
"Unfortunately, it's going to be real similar to today's forecast," said Brad McGavock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett met with officials Tuesday to prepare for the possibility of ordering water rationing after Monday's usage set a record for the third time in recent weeks, jumping to nearly 208 million gallons per day.
"This summer's punishing heat wave and lack of rainfall continue to push water use in Tulsa to record and near-record levels every day," Bartlett said.
If Tuesday's usage reaches 206 mgd or above, Bartlett will impose Stage 1 - or voluntary - rationing on Wednesday.
In this stage, city utility customers are asked to alternate days when they water outdoors and to do so only between midnight and noon. Odd- and even-numbered addresses are matched with odd and even calendar days.
Water and Sewer Director Clayton Edwards said Tuesday's water usage calculation would not be available until around 6 a.m. Wednesday.
"I'm not surprised that we hit this number," he said.
Since the city broke the record twice in mid-July, the millions of gallons of water used per day have hovered in the high 190s to low 200s for all but a few days.
The city's water treatment plants do not have the capacity to deliver the high demand long term, Edwards said.
If the city reaches its maximum of 220 mgd, all outdoor watering will cease.
Bartlett said Tuesday that the only way to avoid rationing is a concerted effort by customers to conserve water.
Discussions were ongoing among the mayor, water and park department officials late Tuesday afternoon on what impact voluntary water rationing would have on city pools and splash pads, the privately owned Big Splash water park, and residential sprinklers children are using to cool off.
Any water rationing order would be extended to all of the city's customers, which in addition to Tulsa include 17 other communities and three more on an emergency basis.
Edwards said drinking water would take precedence over children playing in water. "But we realize that for many of our customers, the only way to keep cool, especially the kids, is playing in water," he said.
Edwards said the biggest demand for water is coming from sprinkler and irrigation systems that are being used to keep residential and commercial lawns and landscapes alive.
Tulsa's water usage this year first broke the water usage record on July 16, pumping 204.2 mgd. Two days later, it topped that amount at 204.5 mgd.
Prior to those record-setting amounts, the record was set at 190.5 mgd in July 1999.
Tuesday's high temperature of 112 degrees broke the previous Aug. 2 record of 108, which was set in 1980. The low temperature of 87 degrees matched the previous all-time high for a low temperature, also set in 1980.
Normal temperatures for Aug. 2 are 94 for the high and 73 for the low, according to the National Weather Service.
Wednesday's forecast includes a 20 percent chance of precipitation during the evening. During the rest of the week, temperatures are expected to range from 109 on Thursday to 106 on Sunday.
Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for the State Medical Examiner's Office, said a Tulsa man in his 60s was among the heat-related deaths confirmed Tuesday.
"The past six deaths (were people) who either did not have an air conditioner or had one and it wasn't working or being used," she said.
EMSA treated nine people Tuesday for heat-related complications and issued its 22nd heat alert since June 1.
Four of those treated were transported to hospitals. None was in serious or critical condition.
Since June 1, EMSA has treated approximately 260 people for heat-related complications, spokesman Chris Stevens said.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has declared an Ozone Alert for Wednesday in the Tulsa area. It will be the 11th Ozone Alert of the year but the first one for August.
Tulsa has exceeded acceptable ozone limits 10 times this year, including six times in July.
Electric use hits record, too
For the second time in seven days, AEP-PSO customers used a record amount of energy at the peak time. The new peak was 4,331 megawatts on Monday, 60 megawatts higher than last week's high mark and 131 MW above the all-time official high of 4,200 megawatts set on Aug. 4, 2008, spokesman Stan Whiteford said.
American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma's energy output topped 83,464 megawatt hours Monday, he added.
While energy for air conditioning was in high demand, power outages left 177 AEP-PSO Tulsa County customers without power Tuesday evening.
Several areas were affected, the largest of which had 90 customers in northwest Tulsa, said Andrea Chancellor, spokeswoman for the utility. Southeast and southwest areas had around 50 outages each, and 16 customers in east Tulsa were without power.
The 2008 peak-usage record held for nearly three years until one week ago - July 27. AEP-PSO's customers cranked up their air conditioners and pulled 4,277 megawatts of the combined system of coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, wind farms and offline purchases from outside producers.
The statistics are considered unofficial until AEP-PSO can audit them. The utility provides power to more than 530,000 customers statewide, including most of the Tulsa area.
Meanwhile, the state's largest electrical utility, OG&E, announced Tuesday that it will not disconnect any residential service for nonpayment during the month of August.
"Because it's been so hot - over 100 degrees almost every day for the past month - we have not been disconnecting service," OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said. "And in the interest of public health and safety, we will not resume disconnects during August."
The moratorium will not apply to commercial customers or those residential customers who do not complete the contract-for-service process within three business days, Alford said.
OG&E provides power to nearly 800,000 customers statewide. The utility serves most of central and western Oklahoma as well as some communities in the Tulsa area.
- Rod Walton and Amanda Bland, World Staff Writers
Tulsa water rationing
Stage 1: When water use reaches 94 percent of the city's 220 million gallons per day treatment capacity (206.8 million gallons) for two consecutive days, customers voluntarily alternate days of outside watering and restrict watering to between midnight and noon. Odd- and even-numbered addresses coincide with odd and even calendar days.
Stage 2: When water use reaches 97 percent of capacity (213.4 million gallons) for two consecutive days, customers must alternate days of outside watering and restrict watering to between midnight and noon.
Stage 3: When water use reaches 100 percent of capacity for two consecutive days, customers must alternate days of outside watering, restrict watering to between midnight and noon, and use only a hand-held hose.
Stage 4: When water demand exceeds 100 percent of capacity for two consecutive days, customers are prohibited from outside watering.
Source: City of Tulsa
Recent water usage
(in millions of gallons)
July 28: 195.5
July 27: 190.9
July 26: 179.9
July 25: 188
July 24: 189.7
July 23: 203 estimated, 207.8 with major water line break
July 22: 200.8
July 21: 195.2
July 20: 196.1
July 19: 191.5
July 18: 204.5 (record setting)
July 17: 202.5
July 16: 204.2 (record setting)
Source: City of Tulsa
Tuesday's temps in the record books
Tulsa's high temperature set a record Tuesday. The high of 112 degrees is the hottest ever for Aug. 2, shattering the previous Tulsa record of 108, set in 1980. The low of 87 tied the record for all-time highest daily low temperature, previously set on July 16, 1980. The 112-degree high Tuesday was the hottest temperature for Tulsa in 2011, ... so far. The forecast Wednesday calls for a high of 114. The highest temperature recorded in Tulsa is 115 on Aug. 10, 1936.
Tuesday's high 112
Tuesday's low 87
Wednesday's forecast high 114
Wednesday's forecast low 82
100-degree days this summer* 30
Tuesday's rainfall 0.00 inches
August's rainfall average** 2.85 inches
*since summer started June 21 ** for the entire month
Original Print Headline: Temperatures, water usage soaring
P.J. Lassek 918-581-8382 Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Alejandro Vaccquez works with sweat dripping down his face at a water utility construction project on South 177th East Avenue on Tuesday as temperatures hit record highs again in the Tulsa area. JEFF LAUTENBERGER/Tulsa World
Construction worker Alejandro Vaccquez wipes sweat off his face with his shirt while laying pipes for a water utility project on 177th East Avenue on Tuesday. JEFF LAUTENBERGER/Tulsa World
A Tulsa firefighter reacts after pouring water over his head while fighting a fire at East 104th Street and South Quebec Avenue on Tuesday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World