We’ve reached fall in Northern California, and although it’s a wonderful time to enjoy the foliage in the great outdoors, it’s also the most dangerous time of year for wildfires. This week is forecast to see elevated fire weather, increasing the likelihood that NorCal residents will see another PG&E power shutdown.
The National Weather Service is predicting warmer temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions, announcing elevated fire weather conditions and urging residents to take caution.
Amidst the forecast, PG&E has announced it may perform another power shutdown to residents in 17 California counties including Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Yolo and Yuba.
“Due to the forecasted extreme weather conditions and dry fuels, PG&E is considering proactively turning off power for safety, and implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff, across portions of 17 Sierra Foothills and North Bay counties. At this time, no PSPS has been called and PG&E will provide updates several times a day,” PG&E wrote in a statement.
Are you prepared for an extended outage? 1) Update your contact info, 2) Review your emergency plan, 3) Check on those who need special help, young & elderly, 4) Have enough water, food & other supplies, 5) Ensure generators are ready to safely use. https://t.co/92ha3cpXyh pic.twitter.com/mCT9vcxkiK— PG&E (@PGE4Me) October 20, 2019
The power company predicts that if the shutdown occurs, it will be significantly smaller than the last one which saw nearly 800,000 customers lose power for days on end.
The embattled power company has been stuck between a rock and a hard place since the revelations that it’s equipment was the cause of multiple deadly and devastating wildfires in NorCal since 2017. The company has paid the fire victims billions of dollars, and is now implementing power shutdowns to avoid being the cause of another costly fire incident.
Photos emerged online showing tree limbs dangling from power lines that had been shut off during the last shutdown, but many residents were still enraged by the company’s conduct. Many customers claim that the company chose management bonuses over needed cleanup projects surrounding the power lines.
The main period of weather risk is forecast to last about 18 to 24 hours, from Wednesday evening through mid-day Thursday. The dry, windy weather pattern is expected to unfold across the Northern Sierra, Sacramento Valley and the North Bay as currently forecast. The start of the event is more than 72 hours away, and PG&E’s meteorologists will continue to study updated weather forecast models 24/7 over coming days.
PG&E has opened its Emergency Operations Center in San Francisco. The status of PG&E’s seven-Day PSPS Potential Forecast has moved to “PSPS Watch,” indicating that there is a “reasonable chance of executing a PSPS to reduce public safety risk in a given geographic zone due to a combination of adverse weather and dry fuel conditions.”