SAN FRANCISCO — Dangerous fire weather with potentially the strongest winds of the year has prompted the potential for the most wide-spread Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) of the year, officials with Public Gas & Electric (PG&E) said.
The shutoffs could impact more than a million Californians, or roughly 386,000 PG&E customers, across 38 counties in central and northern parts of the state. Many of the shutoffs are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The company has already begun to notify customers in those counties of the impending shutoffs, which are expected to begin as early as Sunday morning in some parts.
“PG&E Emergency Operations Center, Meteorology team and Wildfire Safety Operations Center are working together and tracking a significant, offshore wind event starting Sunday that is forecast to have the driest humidity levels and the strongest winds of the wildfire season thus far,” officials said.
At a Saturday night briefing, PG&E officials said high winds were expected to arrive midday Sunday and reach 40 to 60 mph with higher gusts in the mountains. Winds that strong can topple trees and send branches into power lines.
Cal Fire says they have staffed up across California with an extra focus in Northern California.
"It's a pretty widespread area where we're going to see very gusty winds however it's the Sierra and North Bay where we're expecting to see some of the strongest winds," said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with Cal Fire.
As fire crews and PG&E prepare for the worst, Cal Fire says people in high fire risk areas should too.
"Make sure you have all your important documents set aside and an emergency supply kit -- anything you will need to take if you are evacuated," Berlant said. "In some cases, especially under these types of conditions where we can see incredibly fast-moving wildfires, you may only be given minutes to evacuate your home."
Officials said 110 community resource centers will be opened across all California communities set to be impacted by the power shutoffs. Some will open as early as 8 a.m. (others will open at 3 p.m.) and will stay open until 10 p.m.
The centers, following COVID-19 health guidelines, will give residents a place to charge their devices, as well as provide water, snacks, and other essential items. Residents will also have access to up-to-date information on the progress of the power shutoffs.
The weather that prompted the shutoffs is expected to subside by Monday in most areas, at which point crews will begin inspecting lines and restoring power.
“PG&E will safely restore power as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring most customers within 12 daylight hours, based on current weather conditions,” officials said.
More than 172,000 customers are estimated to be affected by the potential outages in the ABC10 viewing area. Here is how many customers in some counties could potentially be impacted by PG&E's latest round of power shutoffs:
- Amador: 10,398
- Calaveras: 15,688
- Colusa: 565
- El Dorado: 38,449
- Nevada: 40,246
- Placer: 17,012
- Plumas: 9,370
- San Joaquin: 10
- Sierra: 1,101
- Solano: 1,602
- Stanislaus: 35
- Tuolumne: 33,272
- Yolo: 165
- Yuba: 5,047
- TOTAL: 172,960
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