Roughly a quarter of Napa County may lose power as soon as late Saturday afternoon in the latest and overall largest of the three power shutoffs called by Pacific Gas and Electric Company this month.

The utility announced Friday afternoon that 850,000 customers regionally and 11,294 in Napa County are likely to have the power off for two days before lines can be inspected and electricity restored. This includes 247 customers with medical needs, according to PG&E’s records.

While this could mean more California PG&E customers will lose power than the first-of-its-kind shutoff on Oct. 9, fewer Napa County customers would be implicated. In the first power shutoff, some 32,000 Napa County customers lost power, including large residential areas in south and west Napa.

The shutoffs in Napa County will affect roughly 34,000 people in the following communities: Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Napa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St Helena, Yountville.

The lights should also remain on in American Canyon and the core of Yountville, including the Veterans Home.

Most of the impact will be further north of Yountville, including St. Helena and Calistoga as well as Angwin, Pope Valley and Lake Berryessa areas.

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Saturday’s shutoff comes on the heels of this week’s smaller shutoff that left 7,000 Napa County PG&E customers in the dark.

Those customers had all been restored by noon Friday, PG&E said.

PG&E is predicting the strongest winds in some 15 years this weekend, starting Saturday night and continue into Monday, said Scott Strenfel, PG&E’s chief meteorologist. Winds are also likely to last longer than the 12-hour-or-less wind events seen recently, he said.

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.

Napa County’s fire weather watch was converted into a red flag warning Friday afternoon. Weather conditions conducive to the spread of wildfire will exist from 8 p.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Monday.

“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.

Windy weather is expected to last until midday Monday, PG&E said in its press release. The utility will not send inspectors to check power lines until the period of dangerous weather has stopped, which could be as early as Monday afternoon for some places.

When restoration time comes, PG&E hopes to employ mutual aid workers from other energy companies in Canada, Minnesota and Florida. Those crews should be ready by Sunday evening.

PG&E plans to open community centers with restrooms, water bottles, air-conditioned seating areas and charging stations, but it has not yet announced the locations. Previously, the Calistoga Fairgrounds hosted PG&E’s Napa County community center.

Windy, smoky and warm hours ahead

Napa County is among many parts of Bay Area under a red flag warning 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.

The highest wind gusts at up to 80 mph are expected in the North and East Bay Mountains, the National Weather Service forecast.

Humidity levels will plummet, NWS said, and fire-fighting efforts would be very difficult.

Fires that start could spread “extremely rapidly, especially early Sunday morning,” NWS wrote in a Friday afternoon forecast.

Smoke from the Sonoma County Kincade Fire — which officials believe may have been sparked by a faulty PG&E transmission tower — is forecast to move over much of the Bay Area as winds shift. Smoke could reach as far as the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley by Saturday morning.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District extended its Spare the Air alert through Saturday because of likely wildfire smoke in the region.

Temperatures are expected to cool to near-normal levels late in the weekend through early next wind. Weaker offshore winds are expected to hit mid-week next week but no rain is expected.

“We are squarely in the prime of our fire weather season,” NWS wrote.

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Courtney can be reached at 707-256-2221. Follow her Twitter and Facebook accounts, @courtneynteague, for more on her reporting.


Public Safety Reporter

Courtney Teague is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She can be reached at 707-256-2221. You can follow her reporting on Twitter and Facebook, or send her anonymous tip at: