Southern California breaking news and trends

Power rangers: 'Flex Alert' declared to plug energy drain in California

power cord

Photo by Gavin Bell via Flickr Creative Commons

With the San Onofre nuclear plant on a government mandated time out, a "Flex Alert" has been issued by the managers of California's power grid in an attempt to keep state energy reserves from falling to the point of a Stage 1 Emergency.

On Thursday, California Independent System Operator declared the call for conservation to go into effect Friday through Sunday as the revenge of summer continues. The National Weather Service has warned valley and inland areas to prepare for unwelcomed humidity as the muggy insult to triple-digit-temp injury. 

Around Southern California, cooling centers can be found in Los Angeles CountyVentura CountyRiverside CountySan Bernardino County and by using the Southern California Edison cooling center locator map.


  • set thermostats no cooler than 78 degrees
  • limit large appliance use during peak hours (washing machines, dishwashers)
  • keep drapes and blinds closed to cool off rooms
  • ventilate homes at night and in the early a.m. to allow cool air to circulate
  • limit opening the refrigerator
  • turn off unnecessary lights
  • use ceiling fans or smaller fans instead of air conditioners


Revenge of summer: Cooling centers open late, conservation urged


Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr Creative Commons

Overcompensating for the relatively mild June and July, August is continuing its heat assault with temperatures registering monstrous numbers like 118 degrees in some of the region's valley and inland areas.

Southern California Edison, serving an area of nearly 14 million people, is spreading a message of electricity conservation while also readying the number of crews available to respond to possible power outages.

The company said earlier on Wednesday that high electricity use — particularly from air conditioners — was straining distribution equipment, but no power outages had been reported.

Local officials have been preparing for months to handle tight power supplies in light of the tubular trouble at San Onofre nuclear plant that caused a full facility shut down.

Officials at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are also dripping with conservation messages in an effort to prevent strain on the power grid. Earlier Wednesday the utility reported outages in Chatsworth and Harbor City.


Don't freak out, but the center of the sun exploded: Solar flare CMEs headed our way

Solar Storm


This false-color image provided by NASA shows a solar flare, lower center, erupting from the sun on Thursday, July 12, 2012.


This image combines two sets of observations of the sun at 10:45 AM EDT, July 12, 2012 from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to give an impression of what the sun looked like shortly before it unleashed an X-class flare.

An X1.4 class solar flare exploded from the center of the sun on Thursday, but it's unclear whether Earth will feel the effects. The flare, peaking on July 12, erupted from "Active Region 1520," a giant sunspot.

The associated coronal mass ejections -- described by NASA as "huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the sun" -- have the potential to produce Earthly disturbances "with sometimes catastrophic results."

Disruptions to the magnetic field, and to our power grids and communication systems, are possible according to some space weather forecasters. NASA and NOAA had inconsistent predictions about the severity, speed and arrival time of the charged particle blast (the Washington Post has a detailed breakdown on the breakdown in communication between the federal agencies).


From spritz to storm: April flushes out with heavy rain midweek

rain storm april

Photo by ashley rose via Flickr Creative Commons

A good week to collect pennies from heaven, Monday's misty drizzle will be paying out riches as a late season Pacific storm enters the area on Wednesday, notes the National Weather Service. Coin machines across the region jangle with anticipation.

The storm is expected to speckle the Southland beginning Wednesday morning, with the strongest downpours forecast for Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Snow levels will drop to between 6,000-7,000 feet and NWS predicts a slight chance of thunderstorms.

Until the storm passes on Thursday, temperature highs are expected to hover in the 60s and 70s.


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner


Gray whale found dead in Long Beach Harbor had injuries

baby gray whale

Photo by Linda Tanner via Flickr Creative Commons

A baby gray whale.

A young gray whale found dead Tuesday afternoon in Long Beach Harbor may be the same animal that was caught in a fishing net off the coast over the weekend, say wildlife authorities. An investigation is pending.

Monica DeAngelis, a NOAA marine biologist, said the 20-foot-long animal "had black rope attached to its flukes and injuries to the base of its tail, indicating that it had been entangled in debris at some point," notes the L.A. Times.

The animal, found floating and bloated, was towed by lifeguards to the researchers who took photos and collected skin samples for DNA. It will be difficult to determine a match, however, because no DNA was collected during the weekend entanglement, they say.

"We do have a lot of entangled animals, especially gray whales, so it wouldn't be a surprise if it's a new one," said DeAngelis.