All but 500 Napa County residents who lost power Wednesday have been restored, but another shutdown is in the offing for this weekend, the county said Friday morning.
All 7,000 local Pacific Gas and Electric customers who lost power Wednesday ahead of strong winds should have their lights turned back by Friday evening, PG&E said.
But PG&E is predicting more safety shutoffs Saturday as what could be the strongest offshore winds to strike Northern California in years hit the area, and expects significant damage to their system which will affect restoration. Statewide 830,000 metered customers are expected to be affected or more than 2 million people.
The winds will likely start Saturday night and continue into Monday, said Scott Strenfel, PG&E’s chief meteorologist, during a Thursday evening press conference.
"The forecast models put this on par, strength wise, with the 2017 offshore event that resulted in the deadly and devastating North Bay/Wine Country Fires," the National Weather Service said early Friday morning.
Higher elevations are expected to see wind gusts from 40 to 60 mph, with peak gusts at 70 to 80 mph or higher, Strenfel said. Such winds are estimated to come once in 15 years.
"Saturdays anticipated wind event has been moved to between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday," said Calistoga City Manager Mike Kirn, but "My guess is power will go out around 4 p.m, on Saturday afternoon maybe a bit sooner. PG&E indicates that they will deenergize 3-5 hours ahead of the wind event. All of the above is subject to change as the weather model is perfected."
Kirn also said PG&E has confirmed that the substation generators in Calistoga will be operated as they have been in the past subject to local weather conditions. In the event the winds are blowing to the east the generators may be shut down.
"All City departments are to be commended for their efforts during the current event and are well prepared for Saturdays event," Kirn said.
A map PG&E had provided to Napa County as of Thursday afternoon indicated that most of the City of Napa would be spared from shutoffs, but some outlying areas of the city could lose power, Napa County spokesperson Brinkerhoff said.
Windy, warm weather ahead
Napa County is among several others in the San Francisco Bay Area under a fire weather watch and high wind watch from Saturday evening through Monday morning. These warnings entail low humidity levels and potentially damaging winds that could blow down trees and power lines.
Winds of roughly 45 to 50 mph are expected to first develop in Napa County late Saturday night and spread south and west into Sunday morning, the National Weather Service forecast. Winds are expected to peak early Sunday morning at nearly 70 mph in the higher peaks of the North Bay.
Humidity levels will plummet, NWS said, and fire-fighting efforts would be very difficult.
The Weekly Calistogan editor Cynthia Sweeney contributed to this story.