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Impending Wind Event Will Bring ‘Dangerous Wildfire Risk’ and Probable Power Shutoffs to the Emerald Counties

This Sunday, October 25 through Monday, October 26 will bring “extremely critical” fire weather to Northern California. As a result, the Emerald Counties–Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity–are expecting the most significant Pacific Gas & Electric Public Safety Power Shutoff of the year. 

Meteorologist Daniel Swain’s blog Weather West provided a vivid description of the upcoming wind event and the fire threat it brings:

“…a dramatically stronger and more widespread offshore wind event now appears likely beginning late Sunday and continuing into Monday–which will likely lead to a period of very dangerous wildfire risk. In fact, this wind event is poised to become the strongest of the season so far (by a wide margin) and will likely approach the magnitude of the extreme autumn wind events in 2019 and 2017.”

In the face of the off-shore wind event, The National Weather Service Eureka, California has issued a Red Flag Warning throughout the Emerald Counties and provided the following analysis of the upcoming event: 

“Dry north to northeast winds will increase through the morning on Sunday. Critical fire weather conditions are expected as relative humidity values fall into the single digits. These northeast winds will become stronger Sunday night, with peak gusts up to 60 mph possible, primarily over the exposed ridgetops of Lake and eastern Mendocino counties. Poor to very poor overnight humidity recoveries coupled with these gusty north/northeast winds will result in critical fire weather conditions across much of Northwest California. Very low humidity, breezy east to northwest winds, and dry fuels will result in critical fire weather conditions Sunday through Monday afternoon.”

To mitigate potential wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric has announced upwards of 18,000 of the Emerald Counties’ residents will potentially lose power starting Sunday afternoon. They warn this event is predicted to “have the driest humidity levels and the strongest winds of the wildfire season thus far.”

California State Senator Mike McGuire provided a list on his Twitter account of how many total residents in each county can expect to be affected: 

Here are the estimated customer totals (New totals as of late Friday):

Humboldt: 3,562  6,712 customers + 232 Medical Baseline customers

Lake: 31,590 + 2,613 Medical Baseline customers

Marin: 19,626 + 608 Medical Baseline customers

Mendocino: 9,157 10,038 customers + 552 Medical Baseline customers

Sonoma: 29,558 38,120 customers + 2,111 Medical Baseline customers

Trinity: 459 1,406 customers + 76 Medical Baseline customers

Plus these tribal communities:

  • Big Lagoon Rancheria Tribal Community: 7 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
  • Hoopa Valley Tribe Tribal Community: 1,063 customers, 56 Medical Baseline customers
  • Hopland Reservation Tribal Community: 86 customers, 11 Medical Baseline customers
  • Karuk Tribe Tribal Community: 42 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
  • Round Valley Reservation Tribal Community: 646 customers, 34 Medical Baseline customers
  • Yurok Tribe Tribal Community: 87 customers, 4 Medical Baseline customers

Senator McGuire also provided estimations of when each county can expect to lose power and when power would be restored. He said Lake and Mendocino Counties are expected to lose power Sunday, October 25, around 2 p.m. Power restoration is expected to take place by Wednesday, October 28 by 8:30 a.m. Regarding Humboldt and Trinity Counties, Senator McGuire said they are expected to lose power Sunday, October 25 around 2 p.m. Power restoration is expected to take place by Tuesday, October 27 by noon.”

PG&E will be providing Community Resource Centers (CRCs)  in centralized locations for residents affected by the PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutoff). PG&E describes the CRCs as providing “ADA-compliant restrooms and hand-washing stations; medical-equipment charging; WiFi; bottled water; and nonperishable snacks.” 

PG&E will be providing Community Resource Centers (CRCs) in centralized locations for residents affected by the PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutoff). PG&E describes the CRCs as providing “ADA-compliant restrooms and hand-washing stations; medical-equipment charging; WiFi; bottled water; and nonperishable snacks.” 

  • Mendocino County Residents can access the CRC at Willits Community Center, 111 E Commercial Street in Willits.
  • Humboldt County residents can access CRCs at two locations: one at First Baptist Church, 1055 Redway Drive in Redway, and the other at the Bridgeville School District Office on 38717 Kneeland Road in Bridgeville.
  • According to the PG&E Power Outage Map, there are no CRCs available for Trinity County residents.

How to Prepare for the Public Safety Power Shutoff 

  • The following infographic from PG&E details suggested supplies residents should gather to prepare for the PSPS:
  • The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents, “Remember that gas pumps and ATMs don’t work without electricity. Best to fill up and try to keep your tank at least half full in case of a #PSPS2020Mendo.”

  • This website from FDA.gov provides practical strategies to keep the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer as low as possible during extended power outages.
  • This website from FoodSafety.gov provides a detailed list of food that can be saved and food that must be thrown out after any sort of extended power outage.

Generators 101

  • As residents prepare for the Public Safety Power Shutoff, many will be purchasing or operating a backup power system for their residence or business. We would like to provide some guidance in purchasing and safely utilizing this equipment.
    • To purchase a generator that meets your wattage needs, use this generator calculator to assess your electricity needs and buy the appropriate model.
    • This Wikihow article provides an overview of the set-up, use, and safety precautions of using an electric generator.

How to Monitor the Public Safety Power Shutoff

Categories: News, Utilities, Weather

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