Tulsa cools off a bit with 104-degree high
BY Staff Reports
Friday, August 05, 2011
8/05/11 at 10:04 AM
Read more about the Tulsa heat wave and drought, get weather updates,
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Tulsans endured their 10th-straight day of triple-digit heat Thursday while being encouraged to conserve water and electricity.
After starting the month with several days in the 110s, Tulsa finally got a bit of relief in the form of a slightly lower high temperature - 104 degrees - on Thursday.
Steve Amburn, National Weather Service meteorologist, said that while Tulsa recorded no rain overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, many surrounding areas did, leading to the drop by a few degrees.
"It almost seemed comfortable," Amburn said.
While Tulsa's highs are expected to remain in the 100s the rest of the week, a weather pattern change may cause temperatures to fall and chances of rain to increase by the middle of next week.
"The upper ridge is going to move west, and the winds aloft will come out of the northern plains, and hopefully a few fronts will come through the area," Amburn said.
AEP-PSO urges customers to conserve: American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma issued an emergency appeal to conserve electricity Thursday.
The company cited continued high temperatures, record-breaking demand for electricity, and the loss of some generating facilities in other parts of the region in asking customers to immediately reduce their electricity use as much as possible.
For the third day in a row, AEP-PSO customers used a record amount of energy at the peak time. The new unofficial peak was 4,429 megawatts on Wednesday - 67 megawatts higher than on Tuesday and 229 megawatts above the previous all-time official high of 4,200 megawatts, set on Aug. 4, 2008, company spokesman Stan Whiteford said.
The company has never conducted controlled blackouts, nor does it anticipate doing so, Whiteford said.
However, he added, "we would be remiss if we didn't communicate with people up front that the possibility exists. If we ever had to implement planned outages, we would have to do so very quickly."
Whiteford said such outages would affect one circuit at a time and would be spread throughout the company's customer service area.
A circuit includes about 2,000 customers.
The controlled blackouts would last about an hour each, he said, but he did not know how often they would occur.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett told city councilors Thursday that he has ordered computers and lights to be turned off when not in use and the thermostats set higher at City Hall and in other city facilities.
Whiteford said that "things are looking much better today. Demand is down, and temperatures are down. Both of those things have helped reduce the stress and strain" on the system.
Water line breaks: Hot weather is partially to blame for a rash of Tulsa water line breaks, which numbered 16 by Thursday evening, officials said.
Public Works Department spokesman Bob Bledsoe said that while the normal spike in breaks because of hot weather happens in mid- to late August, this year's heat wave led to earlier problems.
"They've pulled people out of other areas to do nothing but repair water lines," Bledsoe said. "We're way above normal right now."
One break near Cincinnati Avenue and Mohawk Boulevard flooded the streets and a nearby neighborhood. Another sent water skyward north of downtown.
In July, 301 repairs were made to Tulsa water lines, he said. They included an estimated 4-million-gallon leak from a break in a 36-inch line on Harvard Avenue near 36th Street North.
A normal July sees about 125 breaks, he said.
The other yearly spike occurs in late January and February. Breaks are typically caused by the expanding and contracting of northeast Oklahoma's soil, which changes with the weather.
Water usage remains high: The city's water usage dropped to 206.5 million gallons on Wednesday but remained above the threshold that triggers voluntary rationing.
A city ordinance triggers the first stage of water restrictions when usage reaches 206 million gallons for two consecutive days.
That order was issued Wednesday because water usage the previous two days was slightly above 207 million gallons per day.
The call for voluntary rationing will be lifted when usage stabilizes below 206 million gallons per day, Water and Sewer Director Clayton Edwards said.
Under voluntary rationing, outdoor watering is acceptable on alternating days between midnight and noon.
The city's issue is not about water supply. The lakes from which it draws water are in good shape, Edwards said.
The issue centers on the city's two water treatment plants' ability to keep up with the high demand, he said. Equipment failure is one concern, Edwards said, because the pumps have been operating nonstop at a high level.
"If that occurs, the city would go to mandatory rationing immediately," he said.
Otherwise, the usage level that triggers mandatory rationing is 213 million gallons per day.
Heat-related illnesses climbing: As of 10 p.m. Thursday, a record 302 people had been treated by EMSA paramedics for heat-related illnesses since June 1, EMSA public information officer Chris Stevens said.
Eighteen people were treated Wednesday - a record for this summer - he said, and eight were treated between midnight Wednesday night and 10 p.m. Thursday.
World staff writers Althea Peterson, Kevin Canfield, P.J. Lassek and Jerry Wofford contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa cools off a bit: 104 degrees
Cooler Thursday following area rain
Tulsa's 104-degree high Thursday was a departure from the daily highs in the 110s since the start of August, but it marked the 10th consecutive day of highs reaching the 100s, dating back to July 26. While areas surrounding Tulsa received rain overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, causing cooler area temperatures, no rain was recorded at Tulsa International Airport, the National Weather Service's official reading site for Tulsa.
Thursday's high 104
Thursday's low 80
Friday's forecast high 104
Friday's forecast low 80
100-degree days this summer* 32
Thursday's rainfall 0.00 inches
August's rainfall average** 2.9 inches
*since summer started June 21 ** for the entire month
Junior Lucas takes a drink as he sells fruit under a large umbrella at East Apache Street and North Lewis Avenue this week. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Dayanerah Stage (left), 6, Ansleymarie Deming, 7, Sabrina Kottre, 7, and Mariah Mireles, 7, get splashed at the splash pad at North Elm Avenue and West Iola Street in Broken Arrow on Thursday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World