Thousands of people in Western Washington have lost power over the weekend, as power demand spiked during a historic heat wave.
As of Monday afternoon, nearly 12,300 Puget Sound Energy customers without power. In the Snoqualmie Valley, outages were reported near Tanner, Fall City and Preston.
A Puget Sound Energy spokesperson said that over the weekend, they had about seven times the volume of power outages as they would on a typical June day, as temperatures across the region soared 30 to 40 degrees above normal.
As of Monday afternoon, the spokesperson said they believe they have enough power to supply customers’ needs, either through their own energy generation or power they’ve been able to secure.
The power company is urging customers to help conserve energy.
Issaquah suffered a power outage on Sunday afternoon that lasted several hours. PSE is investigating the cause.
Issaquah Community Center also opened as a cooling center on Saturday, and today it is located at the Issaquah Senior Center.
The Issaquah Library is also open as a cooling center until 6 p.m. on Monday.
Leashed dogs and crated cats are allowed in, however pets must be under owner control at all times and any pet-related accidents must be cleaned by the pet owner.
Several cooling stations opened during the weekend to for people in the Snoqualmie Valley. A list of such places was published on the Record’s website. On Monday, the Snoqualmie Fire Department also hosted a community cool off event at Community Park.
As climate change increases the risk of heat waves, scientists are studying the potential for major electrical grid failures, or blackouts, that overlap with extreme heat. A New York Times article quoted a researcher who said that widespread blackouts during heat waves may be the deadliest climate-related event they could imagine.
Hotter, drier summers are expected to become more common in Puget Sound and the Snoqualmie Valley as climate change continues.
People seeking refuge on waters in east King County were also at risk. The Snoqualmie Fire Department and Emergency Management department reported on Saturday that they had responded to seven swiftwater rescue calls, each with multiple reported victims.
“We aren’t one to beg, but please please please exercise extreme caution if you choose to venture out to the rive,” the department posted to Facebook. “It’s not safe for those that are inexperienced.”
Drowning deaths are up during the pandemic. In 2020, drowning deaths doubled in King County. Last year, 33 people died in King County waters, with 70% of them occurring in open water.
A 33-year-old man, Parahat Akyshov, drowned earlier this month in Lake Washington after he jumped into the lake to try and assist his young son who fell off their motorboat on June 16. His body was recovered a day later.