Electricity usage in Greece soared to a record high yesterday as residents tried to cool off in scorching temperatures, while experts blamed poor town planning for making conditions in the heat wave worse. Temperatures reached as high as 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in Aliartos, central Greece, and 41 Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit) in Athens in what was the hottest day of the year. Extensive usage of air conditioners resulted in record demand weighing on the country’s national power grid, which senior government officials assured could withstand the added pressure. «The Public Power Corporation (PPC) along with the Regulatory Authority for Energy have prepared and completed in-depth work so that the system provides safe and sufficient power,» said Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. Development Ministry figures showed that demand on the power grid hit 9,961 megawatts shortly after midday. The previous record stood at 9,665 MW and was set in August of last year. The power system appears to have stood the test of the heat wave but there were some small problems. According to press reports, blackouts in southeastern suburbs, such as Glyfada, Ilioupolis and Dafni arose at about 5 p.m. due to the overheating of underground cables. Temperatures in Athens would have been more bearable, experts told Kathimerini, had the city had more park areas and lower buildings allowing for improved airflow. Associate professor of meteorology at Athens University Mathaios Santamouris said that temperatures in regional parts of the country are up to 10 degrees lower than the center of Athens. «This is mainly due to the two basic materials used in the city, asphalt and cement, which absorb heat and then in turn radiate warmth,» he said. Temperatures today are expected to remain high at around 41C (105.8F) in Athens with cooler weather expected as of tomorrow. A sudden storm in western and central Macedonia late yesterday caught residents off guard as strong winds and heavy rainfall knocked down trees but caused minor problems, according to authorities.