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Weather and heat stressing electrical infrastructure and health

| 07.24.2006 | 06:04:491569 |
July 24: Record high temperatures across the country have put a strain on power grids and human health, wire news services are reporting. Heavy electrical usage in California and New York are causing thousands of people to loose their power while the heat has also been blamed for several deaths, the Associated Press reported.

The weather has also fanned large wildfires in California which continue to burn despite efforts by firefighting crews numbering in the hundreds.

In New York, the AP reported that thousands of residents are facing their second week without power due to a black out. Officials with Consolidated Edison, the company which provides electricity to hundreds of thousands of people in New York, said they are working to restore power, while state officials said resources investigating why the power was lost should be a post-restoration process.

In Arizona, at least three deaths were caused by the record high temperatures, the Arizona Republic reported Monday. Temperatures reaching 114 were recorded for three consecutive days while the mercury rose to 118 and 116 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Local officials said the heat was more than likely to blame for the deaths of three men - all found dead having temperatures of 107, though "it will be weeks before the cause of death can be confirmed for the three men," the Republic reported.

In Missouri, CNN reported that at least 300,000 people are still without power nearly four days after large thunderstorms pummeled the state with heavy rains and high winds. After a federal disaster declaration the state is now set to receive additional funding to help repair communities damaged by the weather. Additionally, National Guard troops have been deployed to help clear debris and check houses for people who have no electricity and who are susceptible to the heat.

Heavy strains on the power grid also mean that many data centers, computer servers and other electrical-dependent systems have been affected. Computer World reported Monday, "Power reliability will only get worse for data centers because the reserve electric capacity is declining nationwide, according to Kenneth Brill, executive director of the Uptime Institute Inc., in Santa Fe, N.M. ... so the message is, 'You'd better know that your generators work.'"

The BBC reported Monday that the US' largest social networking site, Myspace.com, shut down due to power failure. "Some parts of the service are accessible but profiles and blogs lead to a site maintenance page," the British news agency reported. Most large servers that run websites like Myspace.com and data systems have back up power supplies to prevent a power interruption, the BBC continued, but it is unclear why Myspace.com would go down.