Forecasts Indicate Potential for Historic Wind Event This Weekend
May Need to Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety in Portions of 36 Counties. Mutual Aid Request for 1,000 Personnel for Restoration Phase
10/25/19 7:34 PM UPDATE – According to Kristi Jourdan of PG&E’s Marketing and Communications, “The decision to proactively turn off power for safety has not yet been made – that is expected by 8 a.m. Saturday morning. We understand the impact turning off power for safety has on our customers, and we don’t take this action lightly.
If the decision is made to initiate a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), outages will begin approximately 7 p.m., Saturday in the Bay Area/Cost/S. Sierra Foothills regions. This includes Contra Costa County. We do our best to provide approximate timeframes to indicate when shutoffs are expected, but some areas may experience power outages before or after the expected shutoff times.
It’s important to note that as this weather system sweeps from north to south over a period of two days, PG&E customers across Northern and Central California will feel the effects of hot, dry winds at different times, which means outage times will vary as well. As this intense weather event approaches the service area in the next 24 hours, PG&E’s forecasts will offer sharper detail, noting that the scope may continue to change on the number of customers who will be affected.
Conditions can change quickly, so we ask that customers please stay prepared with their emergency plan. We will continue to monitor conditions and update customers by phone, text and email. You can also follow us on social media. The latest information and maps are at pge.com/pspsupdates.”
SAN FRANCISCO (Friday, October 25, 2019) – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today said it continues to monitor a potentially powerful and widespread dry, hot and windy weather event expected to begin impacting the service area Saturday between 6 and 10 p.m. and lasting until midday Monday.
PG&E will need to turn off power for safety several hours before the potentially damaging winds arrive. It’s important to note that as this weather system sweeps from north to south over a period of two days, PG&E customers across Northern and Central California will feel the effects of hot, dry winds at different times, which means outage times will vary, as well.
The potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is expected to affect approximately 850,000 customers and may impact portions of 36 counties across portions of Humboldt, the Sierra foothills, Western Sacramento Valley, North Bay, and across the greater Bay area, Monterey Bay and northern Central Coast on Saturday, Oct. 26. Customers in the southern-most portion of PG&E’s service area in Kern County could have power shut off for safety on Sunday, Oct. 27.
Predictive data models indicate the weather event could be the most powerful in California in decades, with widespread dry Northeast winds between 45-60 miles per hour (mph) and peak gusts of 60-70 mph in the higher elevations.
Winds of this magnitude pose a higher risk of damage and sparks on the electric system and rapid wildfire spread. The fire risk is even higher because vegetation on the ground has been dried out by recent wind events.
Given the forecast and conditions, PG&E is advising its customers of the potential for a widespread PSPS lasting several days, intended to prevent a catastrophic wildfire. As this intense weather event approaches the service area in the next 24 hours, PG&E’s forecasts will offer sharper detail, noting that the scope may continue to change on the number of customers who will be affected.
Counties Potentially Impacted
|County||Customers||Cities or unincorporated areas with some customers potentially impacted|
Medical Baseline: 1,302
|Albany, Berkeley, Canyon, Castro Valley
Dublin, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore
Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, Sunol
Medical Baseline: 0
Medical Baseline: 974
|Amador City, Drytown, Fiddletown, Ione, Jackson, Martell, Pine Grove, Pioneer, Plymouth, River Pines, Sutter Creek, Volcano|
Medical Baseline: 1,398
|Bangor, Berry Creek, Brush Creek, Butte Meadows, Chico, Clipper Mills, Cohasset, Feather Falls, Forbestown, Forest Ranch, Magalia, Oroville, Palermo, Paradise, Rackerby, Stirling City, Yankee Hill|
Medical Baseline: 1,370
|Angels Camp, Arnold, Avery, Burson, Camp Connell, Campo Seco, Copperopolis, Dorrington, Douglas Flat, Glencoe, Hathaway Pines, Mokelumne Hill, Mountain Ranch, Murphys, Rail Road Flat, San Andreas, Sheep Ranch, Tamarack, Vallecito, Valley Springs, Wallace, West Point, White Pines, Wilseyville|
Medical Baseline: 2
|Arbuckle, Maxwell, Sites, Williams|
|Contra Costa||Total: 48,824
Medical Baseline: 1,610
|Alamo, Antioch, Brentwood, Byron, Canyon, Clayton, Concord, Crockett, Danville, Diablo, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Knightsen, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, San Ramon, Walnut Creek|
|El Dorado||Total: 56,643
Medical Baseline: 2,774
|Cameron Park, Camino, Cold Springs, Coloma, Cool, Diamond Springs, El Dorado Hills, Fair Play, Garden Valley, Georgetown
Greenwood, Grizzly Flats, Kelsey, Kyburz, Lotus, Mount Aukum, Pacific House, Pilot Hill, Placerville, Pollock Pines, Rescue, Shingle Springs, Somerset, Twin Bridges
Medical Baseline: 2
Medical Baseline: 2,057
|Alderpoint, Alton, Arcata, Bayside, Blocksburg
Blue Lake, Bridgeville, Carlotta, Eureka, Fernbridge, Ferndale, Fieldbrook, Fields, Landing, Fortuna, Garberville, Honeydew, Hoopa, Hydesville, Kneeland, Korbel, Loleta
Manila, Mckinleyville, Miranda, Myers Flat, Orick, Orleans, Phillipsville, Redcrest, Rio Dell, Samoa, Scotia, Trinidad, Weitchpec, Weott, Willow Creek
Medical Baseline: 27
|Arvin, Bakersfield, Lebec, Grapevine|
Medical Baseline: 2,170
|Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake Park, Cobb, Finley, Glenhaven, Hidden Valley Lake, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Loch Lomond, Lower Lake, Lucerne, Middletown, Nice, Upper Lake, Witter Springs|
Medical Baseline: 1,574
|Belvedere, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dillon Beach, Fairfax, Fallon, Forest Knolls, Greenbrae, Inverness, Kentfield, Lagunitas, Larkspur, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Nicasio, Novato, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Ross, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Tiburon, Tomales, Woodacre|
Medical Baseline: 42
|Coulterville, Greeley Hill|
Medical Baseline: 408
|Albion, Boonville, Branscomb, Cummings, Dos Rios, Elk, Gualala, Hopland, Laytonville, Leggett, Little River, Manchester, Philo, Piercy, Point Arena, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, Westport, Willits, Yorkville|
Medical Baseline: 49
Medical Baseline: 248
|Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St Helena, Yountville|
Medical Baseline: 1,822
|Chicago Park, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Norden, North San Juan, Penn Valley, Rough And Ready, Smartsville, Soda Springs, Washington|
Medical Baseline: 1,275
|Alta, Applegate, Auburn, Baxter, Emigrant Gap, Foresthill, Gold Run, Granite Bay, Loomis, Meadow Vista, Newcastle, Penryn, Weimar|
Medical Baseline: 6
|Belden, La Porte, Quincy, Storrie, Twain|
|San Benito||Total: 1,369
Medical Baseline: 39
|Aromas, Hollister, San Juan Bautista|
|San Joaquin||Total: 372
Medical Baseline: 5
|San Mateo||Total: 64,932
Medical Baseline: 1,293
|Belmont, Burlingame, Daly City, El Granada, Emerald Hills, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, La Honda, Loma Mar, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Gregorio, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Woodside, Unincorporated Communities in Southwest San Mateo County|
|Santa Clara||Total: 27,093
Medical Baseline: 823
|Coyote, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Redwood Estates, San Jose, San Martin|
|Santa Cruz||Total: 44,945
Medical Baseline: 2,095
|Aptos, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Capitola, Corralitos, Felton, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Mount Hermon, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Soquel|
Medical Baseline: 1,663
|Anderson, Bella Vista, Big Bend, Cottonwood, French Gulch, Igo, Lakehead, Millville, Montgomery Creek, Oak Run, Ono, Palo Cedro, Platina, Round Mountain, Shingletown, Whiskeytown, Whitmore|
Medical Baseline: 14
|Alleghany, Downieville, Goodyears Bar, Pike City, Sierra City|
Medical Baseline: 0
Medical Baseline: 545
|Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Vallejo|
Medical Baseline: 2,695
|Annapolis, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Cotati, Duncans Mills, Forestville, Freestone, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Graton, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Jenner, Kenwood, Larkfield, Monte Rio, Occidental, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rio Nido, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Stewarts Point, Valley Ford, Villa Grande, Windsor|
Medical Baseline: 2
|Knights Ferry, Oakdale, Patterson, Westley|
Medical Baseline: 1,218
|Corning, Flournoy, Gerber, Los Molinos, Manton, Mill Creek, Mineral, Paskenta, Paynes Creek, Proberta, Red Bluff, Vina|
Medical Baseline: 39
|Del Loma, Hawkins Bar|
Medical Baseline: 1,476
|Big Oak Flat, Chinese Camp, Columbia, Groveland, Jamestown, Long Barn, Mi Wuk Village, Pinecrest, Sonora, Soulsbyville, Strawberry, Twain Harte|
Medical Baseline: 15
|Brooks, Capay, Esparto, Guinda, Rumsey, Winters|
Medical Baseline: 313
|Browns Valley, Camptonville, Dobbins, Loma Rica, Oregon House, Strawberry Valley, Wheatland|
Shutoffs Could be Widespread and Extended
As experienced earlier in October, portions of most counties in PG&E’s 70,000-square-mile service area could be temporarily de-energized, potentially including all Tier 2 and Tier 3 fire risk regions. Customers can view the fire threat maps on the California Public Utilities Commission website to know whether they live in one of these high fire-risk regions.
Customers should prepare for a shutoff lasting 48 hours or longer, given the long duration of the wind event. Power cannot be restored until the dangerous weather has passed, safety inspections of de-energized lines are complete, and damage to the system has been repaired.
“We understand that a longer shutoff would be very difficult for our customers. We are already working to minimize the length, including amassing a force of field personnel from PG&E, plus contractors and other utility companies, to be ready to tackle the inspection, repair and restoration process as soon as the weather passes,” said PG&E Corporation CEO and President Bill Johnson.
The company provides direct notifications to affected customers who have given their contact information to PG&E 48 hours in advance of the potential shutoff, and again at 24 hours and four hours before shutoff.
PG&E has not determined whether to move forward with a shutoff, but will continue to monitor weather conditions and provide more definitive information on the potential timing and scale of shutoffs as weather models are updated.
Forecasts and Criteria for Shutoff
“The upcoming wind event has the potential to be one of the strongest in the last several years. It’s also likely to be longer than recent wind events, which have lasted about 12 hours or less,” said Scott Strenfel, Principal Meteorologist with PG&E.
PG&E’s meteorology team is part of a group of fire weather experts and data scientists at the company who work closely with the National Weather Service and the National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC) Geographic Area Coordination Center.
The company carefully reviews a combination of many criteria before taking steps to shut off power for safety, including but not limited to:
- Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below.
- Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain, vegetation and local climate.
- Moisture content: Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (dead and live fuel moistures).
- On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and field crews.
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
- Information from the NIFC and National Weather Service, including high risk days and locations considered “critical burn environments.”
Working to Minimize the Shutoffs
To help speed inspections and repairs, the company has requested mutual aid of 1,000 workers from other energy companies, including ATCO Energy in Alberta, Xcel Energy in Minnesota and Florida Power & Light. These crews are expected to be staged and briefed on the restoration plan by Sunday evening. If weather progresses as expected, restoration could begin in some portions of the affected area as early as Monday afternoon.
The company and its mutual aid partners will prioritize areas that can be safety restored to bring the maximum number of customers back online as quickly as possible.
PG&E is also working to minimize customer impact wherever possible through a combination of sectionalizing the grid and providing emergency backup power generation resources that will be able to quickly re-energize customers in portions of some cities.
How Customers Can Prepare
As part of PSPS preparedness efforts, PG&E is asking customers to:
- Update their contact information by calling 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, prior to, and during, a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
- Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
- Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
- Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
- Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets.
- Learn more about wildfire risk and what to do before, during and after an emergency to keep your family safe at PG&E’s Safety Action Center.
To support customers in the affected areas, PG&E will open Community Resource Centers which provide restrooms, bottled water, electronic device charging and air-conditioned seating. Mobile resource stations (vans), when available, will provide bottled water, phone-charging and latest information for customers. PG&E is working with counties and cities on locations and will provide the list including operating hours prior to initiating the PSPS.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com and www.pge.com/news.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.