OAKLAND, Calif. - Most of the Bay Area along with other Northern counties are bracing for widespread outages after Pacific Gas and Electric warned of power shutoffs as weather conditions intensify.
In anticipation of dry weather and gusty winds, the National Weather Service activated a Fire Weather Watch that takes effect on Wednesday morning and lasts through Thursday afternoon.
PG&E says it will proactively turn off power to nearly 800,000 customers across Northern and Central California due to heightened fire risk. The shutoffs will begin early Wednesday in some areas, just after midnight.
The plan is to perform the shutoffs in stages, depending on the timing of the severe wind conditions, beginning with counties in the northern part of the state and moving south.
At a Tuesday evening news conference from PG&E's San Francisco headauarters, a meteorologist with the utility said strong, dry gusty wind conditions will peak Wednesday evening and are expected to last through Friday, leading to the dangerous fire weather conditions.
Some customers may experience power shutoffs even though weather conditions in their area are not extreme, due to the interconectedness of the power grid, the utility said.
Restoration of power could take days after the weather conditions pass, said Sumeet Singh with PG&E.
The utility acknowledged the problems with their website being down during the emergency. They said they had increased staff and IT working on a fix, but were experiencing a 7 to 8-fold increase in web traffic. They directed customers to their Twitter handle as an alternative source of up-to-date information.
Residents are urged to enroll in zip code alerts by calling 1-877-9000-PGE to get notifications on outages as they occur. Alerts will be delivered via automated call. PG&E customers can also sign up for text alerts, just text "ENROLL" to 97633.
Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations, said in a news release: “The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility, which is why PG&E has decided to turn power off to customers during this widespread, severe wind event. We understand the effects this event will have on our customers and appreciate the public’s patience as we do what is necessary to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk of wildfires."
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the city plans to activate an emergency readiness center, but did not confirm any planned shutoffs in the South Bay, only that they were expected Wednesday afternoon as the winds move south. In a news conference, the mayor alluded to power shutoffs possibly lasting up to seven days in the South Bay. The mayor is expected to hold a 7 a.m. news conference from city hall on Wednesday to update the situation.
He advised in the event of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) that people should shelter in place and motorists should stay off roads because traffic signals would not be operating in affected areas.
In parts of the East Bay, the outages are expected to have a big impact on small business, hospitals and East Bay MUD. Officials said 29 pumping stations require power to keep water flowing. They've rented generators, but say as many as 35,000 customers might need to conserve so there's enough for fire hydrants in case of emergency.
A John Muir Hospital spokesperson said the hospital has a generator and should be fine, but they are notifying that some outpatient clinics may be closed and procedures rescheduled.
These counties may be impacted by PG&E power shutoff:
(* indicates new counties added)
Alameda: Oakland, Castro Valley, Fremont, Union City, Berkeley, Hayward, San Leandro, Sunol, Pleasanton, Livermore
Impact: 32,680 customers
Alpine: Bear Valley
Impact: 633 customers
Amador: Pioneer, Jackson, Sutter Creek, Pine Grove, Plymouth, Volcano, Fiddletown, River Pines, Amador City, Drytown, Martell, Lone, West Point
Impact: 16,041 customers
Butte: Oroville, Chico, Magalia, Paradise, Berry Creek, Forest Ranch, Palermo, Bangor, Cohasset, Butte Meadows, Clipper Mills, Forbestown, Stirling City, Feather Falls, Biggs, Brush Creek, Yankee Hill, Gridley, Rackerby, Butte Valley, Hurleton, Paradise Pines.
Impact: 29,907 customers
Calaveras: Arnold, Angels Camp, Copperopolis, Murphys, San Andreas, West Point, Mountain Ranch, Mokelumne Hill, Rail Road Flat, Vallecito, Wilseyville, Hathaway Pines, Avery, Glencoe, Douglas Flat, Sheep Ranch, White Pines, Dorrington, Camp Connell, Tamarack, Altaville, Valley Springs, Farmington
Impact: 23,708 customers
Colusa: Arbuckle, Stonyford, Williams, Sites, Maxwell
Impact: 1,813 customers
Contra Costa: San Ramon, Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Pinole, Richmond, Kensington, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Berkeley, Canyon, San Pablo, Pittsburg, Rodeo, Concord, Albany, Antioch, Martinez
Impact: 51,310 customers
El Dorado: Placerville, El Dorado Hills, Pollock Pines, Cameron Park, Camino, Rescue, El Dorado, Somerset, Shingle Springs, Georgetown, Garden Valley, Diamond Springs, Pilot Hill, Grizzly Flats, Twin Bridges, Greenwood, Kyburz, Lotus, Kelsey, Mount Aukum, Coloma, Pacific House, Fair Play, Omo Ranch, Silver Fork, Aukum, Strawberry, Pioneer
Glenn: Orland, Willows, Artois, Elk Creek, Glenn, Stonyford
*Humboldt: Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Fortuna, Ferndale, Rio Dell, Trinidad, Garberville, Willow Creek, Hoopa, Redway, Blue Lake, Loleta, Bayside, Hydesville, Carlotta, Scotia, Miranda, Kneeland, Orleans, Myers Flat, Orick, Petrolia, Redcrest, Whitethorn, Weott, Alderpoint, Phillpsville, Samoa, Weitchpec, Honeydew, Fieldbrook, Korbel, Blocksburg, Alton, Fernbridge, Manila, Piercy, Somes Bar, Zenia, Fairhaven, Ettersburg, Fort Seward, Fields Landing, Westhaven, Salyer, Maple Creek, Burnt Ranch, Big Lagoon
*Kern: Bakersfield, Arvin, Buttonwillow, Dustin Acres, Edison, Fellows, Lamont, Lebec, Maricopa, Maricopa, McFarland, McKittrick, Mettler Station, Shafter, Taft, Tehachapi, Tupman, Valley Acres, Wasco
Lake: Clearlake, Lakeport, Clearlake Oaks, Lucerne, Nice, Upper Lake, Lower Lake, Middletown, Kelseyville, Cobb, Hidden Valley Lake, Glenhaven, Witter Springs, Clearlake Park, Loch Lomond, Finley
Impact: 37,439 customers
Mariposa: Coulterville, La Grange, Greeley Hill, Mariposa
Impact: 1,812 customers
*Marin: Bolinas, Fairfax, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Olema, Sausalito, Stinson Beach
Impact: 9,855 customers
Mendocino: Ukiah, Potter Valley, Hopland, Redwood Valley, Boonville, Calpella, Talmage, Garberville, Leggett, Cloverdale, Piercy, Westport
Napa: American Canyon, Napa, Saint Helena, Calistoga, Angwin, Pope Valley, Rutherford, Oakville, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Yountville, American Canyon
Impact: 32,124 customers
Nevada: Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready, Soda Springs, North San Juan, Washington, Norden, Chicago Park, Cedar Ridge, Truckee, Kingvale
Impact: 43,217 customers
San Mateo: Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Woodside, Moss Beach, Montara, Portola Valley, Pescadero, La Honda, Redwood City, San Gregorio, Loma Mar, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Emerald Hills, Pacifica, Princeton
Impact: 14,766 customers
Santa Clara: San Jose, Morgan Hill, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Redwood Estates, Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Coyote, Gilroy, Mount Hamilton, Palo Alto, Holy City
Impact: 38,123 customers
Santa Cruz: Aptos, Boulder Creek, Watsonville, Scotts Valley, Soquel, Ben Lomond, Felton, Santa Cruz, Los Gatos, Mount Hermon, Brookdale, Davenport, Capitola, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Corralitos, Saratoga, Bonny Doon
Solano: Fairfield, Vacaville, Suisun City, Vallejo, Dixon
Sonoma: Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Glen Ellen, Penngrove, Geyserville, Kenwood, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Annapolis, Stewarts Point, Cotati, Cazadero, Guerneville, Larkfield, El Verano, Boyes Hot Springs, Fulton, Bodega Bay
Impact: 66,289 customers
Stanislaus: Westley, Grayson, Patterson, Oakdale, Knights Ferry, Modesto, Riverbank
Impact: 1,088 customers
Tehama: Red Bluff, Los Molinos, Gerber, Corning, Mineral, Paynes Creek, Manton, Vina, Tehama, Mill Creek, Paskenta, Proberta, Flournoy, Cottonwood, Chico, Orland, Anderson
Impact: 24,385 customers
*Trinity: Burnt Ranch, Del Loma, Garberville, Hawkins Bar, Kettenporm, Platina, Salyer, Wildwood, Willow Creek, Zenia
Impact: 1,047 customers
Tuolumne: Sonora, Groveland, Twain Harte, Jamestown, Tuolumne Mi Wuk Village, Pinecrest, Columbia, Soulsbyville, Long Barn, Strawberry, Chinese Camp, Cold Springs, Moccasin, Big Oak Flat, Sierra Village, La Grange, Coulterville, Sugar Pine
Yolo: Winter, Esparto, Guinda, Capay, Brooks, Madison, Rumsey, West Sacramento
Impact: 5,792 customers
Yuba: Marysville, Browns Valley, Oregon House, Brownsville, Wheatland, Dobbins, Camptonville, Smartville, Challenge, Rackerby, Strawberry Valley, Loma Rica. Forbestown, Clipper Mills, Bangor, La Porte, North San Juan
Impact: 6,919 customers
A Caltrans spokesperson confirmed that both the Caldecott Tunnel in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties on State Route 24 and the Lantos
Tunnel along State Route 1 in Pacifica would remain open. The agency had earlier on Tuesday said the tunnels cannot operate without power and that the two tunnels could shut down as early as Tuesday evening. However, they updated the situation and said they worked it out with PG&E to get generators in place and that traffic should flow uninterupted from the outages.
As a reminder, motorists should treat unpowered intersections as a four-way stop.
List will be updated when PG&E's website becomes available