PG&E announced Monday that Public Safety Power Shutoffs may be necessary at mid-week in Napa County and much of Northern California because of predicted strong, dry winds.
Weather models forecast strong off-shore winds Wednesday morning into Thursday, with potentially gusts in excess of 60 mph on the highest ridge peaks, with possible 30 mph gusts in North Bay valleys, the National Weather Service said Monday afternoon.
This has prompted the largest Public Safety Power Shutoff warning since PG&E adopted new procedures after the destructive Northern California wildfires of 2017 and 2018, many of them caused by downed utility lines.
These may be the strongest winds since Oct. 8 and 9, 2017 that contributed to the devastating wildfires in Napa and Solano counties, the National Weather Service said.
Locally, this week's possible Public Safety Power Shutoffs could impact Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties PG&E said.
The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for vast portions of Northern California for midweek. The National Interagency Fire Center’s Geographic Area Coordination Center is also forecasting significant fire potential across Northern California beginning on Wednesday of this week, PG&E said in a news release.
The main period of weather risk is early Wednesday morning through Thursday midday. The dry, windy weather pattern is expected to reach from the northern portions of PG&E’s service territory and down through the Sacramento Valley before spreading into the central areas of the state including most of the Bay Area, the utility said.
PG&E will continue to monitor weather conditions and will be providing additional information regarding affected area this afternoon, PG&E said.
PG&E customers facing possible power shutoffs this week began receiving texts from the utility Monday afternoon. To find out if your address is included, go to https://bit.ly/2mvpeLy
As part of PSPS preparedness efforts, PG&E is asking customers to:
-- Update their contact information at pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, prior to, and during, a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
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-- Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
-- Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
-- Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
-- Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets. Information and tips including a safety plan checklist are available at pge.com/wildfiresafety.
While customers in high fire-threat areas are more likely to be affected by a Public Safety Power Shutoff event, any of PG&E's more than 5 million electric customers could have their power shut off because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions, PG&E said.
Backup electric generators can be a part of any preparedness plan, but they can also pose unique safety hazards, PG&E said.
It’s important to understand how to safely operate your generator before an emergency occurs. This means doing regular safety checks and being sure you have enough fuel to last a few days. If you don’t understand how to use your generator, you risk damaging your property, endangering your life and endangering the lives of others, PG&E said.
Position your generator where its exhaust can vent safely to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal. Never run a portable generator in the garage or in the rain, and never store generator fuel in the house.
Additional tips on the safe use of generators can be found at PG&E’s Safety Action Center at www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com.