SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Nearly two million Northern California residents have had their Sunday rituals disrupted by a historic PG&E preventive power outage as Red Flag Warning wind conditions fueled a wildfire in Sonoma County and threatened to spark blazes elsewhere.
PG&E announced Sunday a third consecutive severe wind event for Tuesday and Wednesday that could impact more than 30 counties across Northern and Central California. The utility said because of the forecasted extreme weather conditions, it is considering proactively turning off power for safety in the following counties: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, Yuba.
Earlier Sunday, steady winds of 40-50 mph buffeted some Bay Area communities, while a gust of 93 mph had been clocked early Sunday in the Kincade Fire zone. Fears that downed power lines could spark a large outbreak of wildfires on the scale of the destructive and deadly Oct. 2017 blazes forced utility officials to shut down power to 940,000 homes and businesses from the Bay Area to the Sierra.
For many, the power will not be restored until Monday, but that will be after missing the morning cup at the local coffee shops or gathering to watch the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers football games.
Thankfully for 49ers fans, the team home field — Levi’s Stadium — was not impacted by the outage and Sunday’s game will be played as scheduled.
“We don’t do this because it’s the easy thing for us to do, we do it because it’s the safe and right thing for us to do,” said Andy Vesey, Utility CEO and President at PG&E, at a Saturday night news conference. “It’s a challenging thing to do, but the number one priority we have is your safety.”
Pacific Gas & Electric started the shutoffs Saturday around 5 p.m. and completed most by early Sunday for an estimated 2.35 million people across 38 counties.
In the wake of a power shutdown last week, many were prepared for the blackouts this time around. Workers at Jackson’s Wines & Spirits in Lafayette said in the run up to the shutoffs, ice was a top seller.
“We’ve been having to make our own bags all day long, because people are constantly coming in, we had to cut it to a two-bag per person limit,” said employee Rob Davies said Saturday prior to the shutdown.
The shop does not have a generator, and it estimates it may lose up to $10,000 in sales for each day the power is out.
“For home, I’m set up with generators and everything, but for everybody else and businesswise, I think it’s terrible,” said Davies. “A lot of people are losing money, we’re losing hours of our pay.”
This is the first power shutoff for Berkeley resident Ann Reidy.
“Not as prepared as we should probably be,” she told KPIX 5. “We have an electric car that we need tomorrow and it isn’t charged and we just realized that we should have planned better and charged it in advance.”
Many East Bay shoppers were also racing around, picking up last minute items Saturday evening.
“I do think it’s a little bit stressful for everyone, but I get why PG&E is doing it and I would rather be safe than sorry,” said Tara Shirakh of Lafayette.
Here is a breakdown of the customers affected this weekend in each Bay Area county:
- Alameda County: 57,002 (outage will impact cities of Albany, Berkeley, Canyon, Castro Valley Dublin, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro and Sunol)
- Contra Costa County: 48,058 (outage will impact cities of Alamo, Antioch, Brentwood, Byron, Canyon, Clayton, Concord, Crockett, Danville, Diablo, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Knightsen, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo, San Pablo, San Ramon and Walnut Creek)
- Marin County: 118,535 (outage will impact cities of Belvedere, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dillon Beach, Fairfax, Fallon, Forest Knolls, Greenbrae, Inverness, Kentfield, Lagunitas, Larkspur, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Nicasio, Novato, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Ross, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Tiburon, Tomales and Woodacre)
- Napa County: 17,878 (outage will impact cities of Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St Helena and Yountville)
- San Mateo County: 57,218 (outage will impact cities of Belmont, Burlingame, Daly City, El Granada, Emerald Hills, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, La Honda, Loma Mar, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Gregorio, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Woodside and unincorporated communities in Southwest San Mateo County)
- Santa Clara County: 27,094 (outage will impact cities of Coyote, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Redwood Estates, San Jose and San Martin)
- Solano County: 25,524 (outage will impact cities of Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville and Vallejo)
- Sonoma County: 95,647 (outage will impact cities of Medical Baseline: 2,695
Annapolis, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Cotati, Duncans Mills, Forestville, Freestone, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Graton, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Jenner, Kenwood, Larkfield, Monte Rio, Occidental, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rio Nido, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Stewarts Point, Valley Ford, Villa Grande and Windsor)