SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — About 250,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers across the Bay Area were still without power Monday evening, utility officials said at a virtual news briefing.
“As expected, this weather was quite extreme,” said PG&E’s chief meteorologist Scott Strenfel.
All but 2 counties had been given either a full or partial “all-clear,” said PG&E’s Incident Commander, Mark Quinlan, which means it is safe to turn on power.
However, Strenfel cautioned that more high winds were expected again Monday night into Tuesday, so many customers would remain without power until the winds subside Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, PG&E officials announced parts of five Bay Area counties affected by the current safety power shutoff had been given the “all clear,” allowing power restoration efforts to begin.
The utility’s Twitter account posted the news shortly before noon Monday.
Weather ‘All Clear’ Issued in Some Locations for Public Safety Power Shutoff Event – Patrols & Restoration Work Has Begun for Impacted Areas Where It Is Safe to Do So – Restoration Expected to Occur in Stages Beginning This Morning Through Tuesday Night https://t.co/FPHRt0ngZu pic.twitter.com/CyxAAGPmzy
— PG&E (@PGE4Me) October 26, 2020
While the press release issued by PG&E did not include specific details about where the power restoration efforts had begun, officials later clarified that portions of Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties were the Bay Area counties where crews had started inspecting power lines for possible damage from high winds overnight.
PG&E said the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) that started Sunday morning affected approximately 345,000 customer accounts in 34 counties. Improving weather conditions allowed officials to remove Kern and San Joaquin counties from the scope of this PSPS.
“This morning, PG&E meteorologists began issuing the weather all clear for portions of areas impacted by the PSPS,” the press release read. “Restorations have begun where possible.”
The inspection of lines will be done by almost 1,800 ground units with air support from one plane and 65 helicopters. A total of over 17,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines will need to be checked for possible damage or hazards before they can be re-energized and power restored.
The Bay Area office of the National Weather Service announced early Monday evening that the red flag warning for lower elevations in the Bay Area and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The warning remains in effect for the North Bay mountains and East Bay hills.
The Red Flag Warnings for the lower elevations in the Bay Area as well as Santa Cruz Mtns have been allowed to expire. But the Red Flag Warning for the North Bay Mtns and East Bay Hills continues until 5 pm Tuesday. We've also adjusted our expected winds. Stay Safe! pic.twitter.com/ID7Dd7PGk3
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 26, 2020
PG&E expects to restore power to a majority of customers impacted by the PSPS event by late Tuesday evening, but the early all clear means some should have power back at some point Monday.
As of about 6 p.m. Monday evening when PG&E provided an update to the current PSPS, officials said approximately 95,000 customer accounts had their power restored, leaving about 250,000 customer accounts still without power.
PG&E so far found 12 instances where damage or a hazard was caused by the heavy winds overnight. That number is expected to keep rising Monday night and Tuesday as inspections locate more damage.
Given that high winds and red-flag warning will continue in some areas through Tuesday morning, power restoration efforts won’t begin in those areas until the fire danger subsides. There could be additional delays to power restoration if significant repairs to wind-damaged lines are required.
A county breakdown of the outages as of 6 p.m. Monday included:
- 16,783 customers in Alameda County
- 15,482 customers in Contra Costa County
- 13,809 in Marin County
- 11,026 in Napa County
- 3,671 in San Mateo County
- 4,182 customers in Santa Clara County
- 13,872 customers in Santa Cruz County
- 1,597 customers in Solano County
- 24,886 customers in Sonoma County
Meanwhile, clean-up from the high winds Sunday night into Monday morning continued across the Bay Area.
While some areas had the power shutoff by PG&E as a safety precaution, in other areas power was knocked out by downed power lines from the strong winds.
“It was a little bit dangerous because things were falling a few feet away,” one Oakland resident.
Castro Valley resident Matthew Reinhart was left powerless and fenceless after the windstorm. He spent the day repairing the fence that had blown down overnight.
“I gotta dig out the old fence and put in new ones just like it was,” said Reinhart.
Fortunately, he had a generator for his power tools, but his wife Leah Reinhart said their dog was going crazy being inside all day.
“It’s a bumpy start for Monday. It could’ve been worse. It could’ve been my car that was totally smashed. We were very lucky,” explained Leah Reinhart.
No school for Hannah and her younger sister Monday after power was turned off in Lafayette . Hannah spent a productive day at her horse barn brushing her horse, Big Red.
“Power went off at my house and I don’t have it at my dad’s house. We decided to go to the ranch,” said Hannah.
She said she hopes she can do her homework Monday night if the lights are turned back on.
Juliette Goodrich contributed to this story.