California’s epic heat wave is over. Here’s what we learned

Sep 16, 2022

The heat wave is over. Now it’s time to learn some lessons.

First off, those of us who live, work and commute in air-conditioned homes and cars are the lucky ones. For the half-million Los Angeles County residents who take the bus each day, waiting at a bus stop with no shade structure can be brutal. Unfortunately, the vast majority of bus stops in L.A. County don’t have any shade — and only half have benches, which can be searing hot, my colleague Rachel Uranga reports. As the region expands public transit, this badly needs to be fixed.

Unhoused people are especially vulnerable to injury and death during heat waves. Some civil rights advocates wonder if rising temperatures could finally prompt California to establish a legal right to housing or shelter, L.A. Times columnists Anita Chabria and Erika D. Smith write. And what about cooling centers, you ask? Well, they’re often not super effective. L.A.’s dedicated cooling centers averaged just 21 people per center per day during the recent heat wave. Summer Lin looks at why.

And although California managed to avoid power shortages — barely — the climate chaos wreaked havoc on the electric grid and other infrastructure. In Northern California, four cities needlessly shut off power after misunderstanding a communication from the state grid operator. Wildfire smoke and clouds from a tropical storm blotted out the sun in parts of the state, causing solar power production to drop. Extreme heat knocked out a Twitter data center in Sacramento.

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