Extreme Fire Weather – And PG&E Shutdowns – Coming to NorCal This Week

Hot, dry and windy weather is forecast for Northern California this week, leading to the first PG&E power shutdown of the season. With numerous major wildfires leaving thousands of NorCal residents evacuated from their homes, this event highlights another devastating fire season in the region.

PG&E sent out notifications to 39,000 customers on Sunday night warning of the impending power shutdowns on Tuesday night and lasting through Wednesday afternoon. The shutdowns could impact 48,000 residents, mostly in Butte and Shasta counties, with more affected in small portions of 18 counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains.

Meteorologists are tracking a weather system in those areas that could bring sustained winds of up to 40 mph, gusting higher in foothills and mountains. The National Weather Service issued Fire Weather Watches in the areas Tuesday through Wednesday based on forecasts for dry, northerly winds and low relative humidity. In addition, the Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center’s North Operations Predictive Services issued a high-risk fire warning Tuesday through Wednesday due to “an unusually gusty early-season” wind event.

Here is where the shutdowns are predicted to take place:

-Butte County: 13,841 customers
-Glenn County: 17 customers
-Humboldt County: 643 customers
-Lake County: 2,727 customers
-Lassen County: 65 customers
-Mendocino County: 239 customers
-Napa County: 1,804 customers
-Plumas County: 778 customers
-Shasta County: 14,027 customers
-Sierra County: 1,035 customers
-Solano County: 71 customers
-Sonoma County: 106 customers
-Tehama County: 2,856 customers
-Trinity County: 426 customers
-Yolo County: 100 customers
-Yuba County: 531 customers

PG&E considers the following factors in cases of power shutdowns:

  • Low humidity levels, generally 30% and below.
  • A forecast of high winds, particularly sustained winds above 20 miles per hour and wind gusts above 30-40 miles per hour.
  • Condition of dry material on the ground and low moisture content of vegetation.
  • A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
  • Real-time ground observations from their Wildfire Safety Operations Center and crews working across the service territory.

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