After a week of on and off rains, a series of holiday winter storms are forecasted to intensify Sunday night into Monday. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) electric and vegetation crews have restored service to thousands of customers following weather-related outages.
“Throughout the last week we’ve been focused on staying ready and keeping the power on for our customers. This weekend, as our customers hopefully enjoy time with their families, the men and women of PG&E continue to work in challenging conditions to power our state”
PG&E crews have restored electric service to nearly 50,000 customers since Christmas morning, with 15,000 customers still experiencing outages as of 5 p.m. on Sunday. Crews are also preparing to respond to any outages from the next pulse of the current storm system.
PG&E meteorologists are forecasting low snow levels tonight and tomorrow with heavier snow accumulations in the low to mid elevations. That snow accumulation could lead to increased power outages in some areas.
The wet and unsettled weather pattern looks to continue through Tuesday in certain areas—the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning through Tuesday morning for the Sierra and northern mountains—before drier conditions possibly return, along with potentially very cold temperatures.
“Throughout the last week we’ve been focused on staying ready and keeping the power on for our customers. This weekend, as our customers hopefully enjoy time with their families, the men and women of PG&E continue to work in challenging conditions to power our state,” said Wade Smith, PG&E’s Senior Vice President, Electric Operations.
Winter storms produce wet and windy conditions that can cause trees, limbs and other debris to fall into power lines, damage equipment and interrupt electric service. In some areas, ground already saturated by previous storms, along with drought-intensified conditions that weakened vegetation, could cause more trees to fall into equipment and cause power outages.
PG&E’s meteorology team has developed a Storm Outage Prediction Model that incorporates real-time weather forecasts, historical data and system knowledge to accurately show where and when storm impacts will be most severe. This model enables the company to pre-stage crews and equipment as storms approach to enable rapid response to outages. Those activities are taking place now.
Fall and winter rain and snow in PG&E’s service area have been a welcomed occurrence, especially in lieu of drought conditions in the state. Since the start of the weather year on Oct. 1, rain totals have been 206% of normal at the Oakland Airport. Statewide, California’s snowpack has grown from 19% of historic averages on Dec. 10 to 102% as of Dec. 23, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
Among other actions being taken by PG&E:
Workers are tackling restoration in challenging weather conditions and are supported by the utility’s geosciences team. Geosciences is monitoring potential post-wildfire debris flows from incoming rains which could impact PG&E’s equipment and vegetation around its equipment.
PG&E distributed power poles, power lines, transformers and other electric equipment from our three materials centers to yards throughout our service territory to restore power to impacted areas as quickly as possible.
Local and regional operations emergency centers have been activated throughout our service area in impacted regions to allocate all staff and resources to restoration efforts.
Keeping Customers Informed
PG&E knows how important it is to keep its customers informed. Customers can view real-time outage information on its website outage center and search by a specific address, by city or by county. This site has been updated to include in-language support for 16 languages.
Additionally, customers can sign up for outage notifications by text, email or phone. PG&E will let customers know the cause of an outage, when crews are on their way, the estimated restoration time, and when power is restored.
Storm Safety Tips
Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 9-1-1 and then PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
Secure outdoor furniture: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines and property.
Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should ensure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. And keep extra batteries on hand. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup. Having a portable charging device helps to keep your cell phone running.
Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 8-1-1 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.