heat

Environment
1:16 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Drought Leads to a Rise In Animal Bites

Kelly Conrad Bender, an urban wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, shows off a Mexican Milk snake. Bender discussed the issues involving the drought and wild animal bites at the University Medical Center at Brakenridge.
Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The number of venomous bites and stings has increased since last year as the drought sends snakes and other wild animals searching for food and water.

Kelly Conrad Bender, an urban wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, came to the University Medical Center Brakenridge to explain the changes in wildlife.

“Wildlife, these individual animals, has not experienced this kind of drought, but their species has. They are the result of thousands of years of adaptation to our climate and these droughts do happen occasionally, maybe once every 50 to 100 years. So the species, given appropriate habitat and given a good balanced stable habitat, they will survive and they’ll come out stronger,” Bender said.

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Texas
4:42 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Texas Inmates Complain of Sweltering Prison Conditions

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

In letters from his prison cell at the McConnell Unit in Beeville, Susan Fenner’s son describes miserably hot and dangerous conditions. The temperature is more than 100 degrees outside, and the heat radiates through his tiny un-air conditioned box of a cell in administrative segregation.

“There’s not much circulation, and it’s just horrible,” said Fenner, who is executive director of the Texas Inmate Family Association.

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Austin
5:01 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

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energy
5:43 pm
Thu August 4, 2011

Updated: ERCOT Lowers Energy Emergency Level

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

Update at 5:40 p.m. The worst of today's energy emergency appears to be over. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has canceled the Level 2B Energy Emergency Alert. However, ERCOT is still at 2A, and is urging people to conserve electricity until 7 p.m.

Earlier: The state's energy regulator said in a Tweet moments ago that there is now a "high probability" of rolling blackouts across the state. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas escalated the Energy Emergency Alert to Level 2B, meaning energy reserves are below 1,750 megawatts and continuing to decline.

ERCOT declared Level 2A at around 2:30 p.m., which triggered large factories, mostly along the Gulf Coast, to power down their operations in a bid to preserve energy reserves. It's the first time since rolling blackouts in February that ERCOT had initiated a Level 2A alert.

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Texas
3:30 pm
Thu August 4, 2011

Where To Find Outage Information If Blackouts Hit Austin

Austin Energy's Customer Outage Portal showed everything running as usual at 3:30 p.m.

Oppressive heat is helping to push Texas’ power grid to maximum capacity. Now the state’s grid operator has declared an Energy Emergency Level 2, which triggers some factories to power down voluntarily.

But with the peak hour of energy consumption still ahead – 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. -- you may be interested to know about Austin Energy’s Customer Outage Portal, should rolling blackouts occur.

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Austin
3:04 pm
Thu August 4, 2011

Who Gets Shut Off If We Have Rolling Blackouts?

A map of the 376 circuits that make up Austin Energy's power grid.
Photo from Austin Energy. Map enhanced by Torrie Hardcastle for KUT News

Update: Austin Energy has released an updated version of this map. You can find it and an explanation here.

Earlier: Texas is currently in Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 as the electricity grid struggles to power air conditioning amid sweltering temperatures. Level 3 would require energy companies like Austin Energy to begin rolling blackouts like those we experienced if February.

After the energy crisis this winter, Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis gave a presentation on the power emergency. The presentation included a map delineating areas of the city connected to so-called "load shed" circuits. These are the circuits that are the first to get turned off in the event of rolling blackouts.

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Austin
1:00 pm
Thu August 4, 2011

Austin Energy Chief Concerned About Advance Blackout Warning

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The risk of rolling blackouts looms over Texas as people crank up their air conditioners to cope with the blistering heat. But the head of Austin Energy indicated today that he doesn’t have a direct way to alert consumers before the lights go out.

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Austin
8:44 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Heat Forces Austin Pets Alive Adoptions Indoors

A dog at an Austin Pets Alive adoption clinic...in cooler climes.
Photo by sheeshoo http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheeshoo/

The blistering heat has claimed another casualty: the Austin Pets Alive adoption clinics you see outside pet stores. Temperatures are too high for dogs to be hanging around outside on the sidewalk.

APA vans are also having trouble keeping cool in the heat, and organizers are looking for volunteer mechanics to fix them for free. (Update at 8:24 p.m. APA says it now needs donated vans or money to buy parts more than it needs mechanic volunteers.)

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Texas
4:11 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Texas Electricity Demand Forecast To Break Another Record

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

The state’s electric grid regulator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is predicting another record breaking day of energy consumption.  

ERCOT predicts we'll use 67,084 megawatts of power today, blowing past the all-time record of 66,867 megawatts set just yesterday.

The high power demand has ERCOT pleading with people and businesses to reduce energy consumption at least until 7 p.m., and especially between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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Austin
3:33 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

City Activates Heat Emergency Plan

This National Weather Service map shows the temperatures over Texas as of 3:30 p.m.
Photo by National Weather Service

With a heat advisory in effect until Friday night, the City of Austin is initiating Phase 1 of its heat emergency plan. Phase 1 involves monitoring “at-risk” people for signs of heat-related illness.

These are people the city defines as at-risk:

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