California

Here we go again: PG&E may cut power to 17 counties in Northern California this week

»» UPDATE: Blackouts set for Northern California. PG&E announces major shutoff starting Wednesday

Original story:

Just a week after a historic blackout, weather conditions may lead Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to do another round of power shutoffs for customers across California.

Weather forecasts for Wednesday and Thursday show conditions similar to those that led the utility to shut off power to tens of thousands of customers last week. Fire danger remains high as dry, warm wind blows through Southern California, and the potential for fire danger could move to northern portions of the state during the middle of the week.

The warning comes a little more than a week after a destructive fire broke out on the edge of Los Angeles, destroying at least 17 structures and damaging dozens more.

“We’re gonna see a pretty big warmup in NorCal that will be above normal, near-record highs as they push into the mid to upper 80s or lower 90s,” said Cory Mueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’ll see some breezy north winds into Wednesday and maybe Thursday. The relatively dry humidity would lead to increased fire conditions.

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“Comparing it to the last north wind events, they are substantially weaker. We’re not expecting winds to be as strong, but there will be somewhat breezy north winds and down-slope winds in the Sierras Wednesday night.”

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for Wednesday and Thursday since winds are expected to gust at 30 to 40 mph with low humidity through the day.

As of Sunday evening PG&E had not announced any potential power shutoffs, but marked four of its customer zones with “elevated” risk — the North Bay, the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada foothills north and east of the Sacramento Valley.

The utility could proactively cut power in 17 Northern California counties, PG&E said in a news release Sunday night. Among those counties are El Dorado, Placer, San Joaquin, Solano, Yolo and Yuba. If a public safety power shutoff is necessary, it’s expected to be much smaller in size than what took place Oct. 9-12.

“I can tell you that PG&E meteorology and operations are monitoring weather conditions that indicate the possibility of dry, windy weather and fire risk late Wednesday and Thursday. utility spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian said. “Our seven-day forecast moved to elevated status for portions of the Sierra Foothills and the North Bay. The potential weather event is more than three days away and PG&E will continue monitoring conditions.”

According to PG&E, the elevated conditions are being monitored for the increased likelihood of a public safety power shutoff, but there’s no estimate on the number of customers who could be affected.

“We don’t have further details on if we had a PSPS how many customers would lose power,” Sarkissian said. “At this point, we don’t have information like that.”

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Mitchel Bobo covers breaking news for The Bee and is a journalism student at Sacramento State. He was born on Travis Air Force Base and raised in Vacaville.
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