UPDATE 10/10/19, 5 p.m. — PG&E has officially released the list of counties that have received the "all clear" for risks of fire weather, and where visual inspections of equipment can now begin. The utility company has stated that daytime inspections and repair of all equipment will be required prior to restoring power, and there has been no official estimate given of when power will be restored in Mendocino County. However, readers are reporting that power has come back on in several places, including Regina Heights in Ukiah and Redwood Valley, over the last several hours.
Has your power come back on? Let us know in the comments. Here's the list of "all clear" counties provided by PG&E in their most recent update:
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, improving weather conditions in some parts of the areas affected PSPS have allowed for an “all clear” to be issued for safety inspections, repair and restoration efforts to begin in the following areas: Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, Monterey, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and in portions of El Dorado, Placer, San Mateo, Santa Cruz..
As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the following additional counties were added to the “all clear” list for inspection, repair and restoration to begin: Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Placer, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and in portions of Yuba.PG&E press release from October 10, 2019, emailed at 4:53 p.m.
UPDATE 10/10/19, 3:25 p.m. — Lake County has also received the "all clear" for fire weather risks, and a Nixle alert has been sent out notifying residents from the Clearlake Police Department..
UPDATE 10/10/19, 2:45 p.m. — As of 2:34 p.m. today, PG&E has announced that Mendocino County has been declared clear of fire risk weather conditions, and the utility company will now begin the visual inspections of power lines, which they have deemed necessary to conduct prior to restoring power. This process may take some time, as PG&E has stated that across their system they will need to inspect 25,000 miles of distribution and 2,500 miles of transmission lines.
PG&E has stated that they will be conducting these inspections using helicopters as well as inspectors on the ground, and that all equipment that was shutdown must be visual examined, by a human, for damage — and that any damages must be repaired before the power is restored. These inspections will only take place during daylight hours, and so exactly how long it will take to complete the inspections remains unclear — but it is only after these inspections can be completed that power will be restored.
At a press conference given by PG&E on Wednesday evening, company officials stated that they are deploying 45 helicopters and 6,300 inspectors to assess equipment — however, these people will be working in across 30 counties across Central and Northern California that have faced shutdowns, so exactly how long it will take, or how many will be working in Mendocino County, remains unclear — especially given that our county has regions with forested steep terrain that can make inspections difficult.
We will update with any new information about power restoration times as it becomes available from local officials and from PG&E itself.
The County of Mendocino has issued a press release outlining the current process, now that the fire risk has been declared negligible by PG&E. You can read the full announcement at this link.
UPDATE 10/10/19, 10:30 a.m. — The worst of the "Diablo Winds" that roared through areas mostly to our east and south and mostly at higher elevation, have passed. While the leaves barely rustled in many parts of Mendocino County last night, some peaks in Sonoma saw winds over 60 mph. All high winds across NorCal should die down by tonight. Also last night, temperatures dropped down into the 20s in northern Mendo areas like Willits, and in the low 30s in Ukiah. (Check out PG&E's new outage map)
With these shifts in the weather, the "all-clear" is expected to be called between 10 a.m. and noon today. Now PG&E will begin the process of inspecting the lines, and once they have competed that they can turn the power back on. This will happen on a rolling basis. Some parts of Mendo should have their power restored today, other places later, and exactly where we don't know.
PG&E also put out its new temporary website with information on the shut-off. (Here's the link) They had to quickly build this one when their old one crashed under the strained of high volume traffic. A quick look through that website shows the areas without power, but does not appear to give an estimated time of power restoration just yet.
Here's what State Senator Mike McGuire had to say about it:
The County of Mendocino and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office both put out a press release with the latest information they have as well:
PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff Restoration Update
Post Date: 10/10/2019 9:45 AM
The County of Mendocino has been continually monitoring the scope of the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event occurring in Mendocino County.
On 10-09-2019 PG&E completed its De-energization of some areas of Mendocino County and will anticipates providing the “all clear” notification to begin restoration of power to those areas on 10-10-2019 between 10:00 AM and 12:00 noon.
The exact restoration time for the specific areas/communities of Mendocino County is unknown at this time and PG&E restoration efforts will occur only during daytime hours.
For further information refer to the follow PG&E press release:(https://www.pgecurrents.com/
Important Information From PG&E About Restoration
Restoring powerBefore restoring power, PG&E must inspect its equipment for damage and make any necessary repairs. That process cannot begin until the severe weather event has subsided.
Given the prolonged period during which the wind event will unfold, and the large number of power line miles that will need to be inspected before restoration, customers are being asked to prepare for an extended outage.
PG&E will work with state and local agencies to provide updated restoration timelines following the conclusion of the severe weather event.
Inspection and RestorationIt’s important for all customers to have an emergency plan to be prepared for any extended outages due to extreme weather or natural disasters.
Each situation will be somewhat different, just like each day’s weather.
After the extreme weather has passed and it is safe to do so, our crews will work to visually inspect each mile of our power lines to ensure they are free from damage and safe to energize.
Inspections will take place during daylight hours and, in most cases, we would expect to be able to restore power within 24 to 48 hours after extreme weather has passed.
However, depending on weather conditions or if any repairs are needed, outages (weather event plus restoration time) could last longer than 48 hours.
For planning purposes, we suggest customers prepare for multiple-day outages.
Steps to restoration include:Weather All Clear - After the extreme weather has passed and it’s safe to do so, our crews can go into the field to begin patrols and inspections.
Patrol and InspectOur crews will work to visually inspect our power lines to look for potential weather-related damage to the lines, poles and towers. This is done by vehicle, foot and air.
Visual inspections are necessary since circuit breakers, reclosing devices and fuses that are typically used to help detect any potential damage from a weather event like a winter storm are also de-energized during a Public Safety Power Shutoff for safety reasons.
There are many challenges we face during inspections:Some locations require workers to travel on narrow access roads. In locations with no vehicle access, crews might need to hike in remote and mountainous areas to inspect equipment.
At night, we can’t fly helicopters for visual inspections.
Isolate and Repair Damaged EquipmentWhere equipment damage is found, crews will work to isolate the damaged area from the rest of the system so other parts of the system can be restored.
Where equipment damage is found, crews work safely and as quickly as possible to make repairs.
RestorationOnce the poles, towers and lines are deemed safe to energize, a call is made to the PG&E Control Center to complete the energization process.
Power is then restored to customers.
Customer NotificationCustomers are notified that power has been restored.
UPDATE 11:15 p.m. -- PG&E has just released a new press release, but without any significant information — and no new maps. In this second phase of power shut-offs the utility company has provided little to no information to the general public of press about timing or location. It is unclear to what extent they have warned individual customers, but anecdotal evidence points to little. It does appear now that these new outages have begun, and are hitting parts of Berkeley, the Oakland hills and Santa Cruz County, though the County of Alameda said that power would go out there at midnight.
Exactly what this means for the 800 people in Mendocino County who are scheduled to be affected by phase 2 is not clear — please leave a comment if you have lost power today, and tell us what you’re experiencing. (Here’s the link to the full release)
The NWS is reporting 60 mph sustained winds with 70 mph gusts on Mt. Saint Helena (which sits where Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties meet). Winds on Mt. Diablo are 54 mph with gusts of 68 mph. (Here is a link to the NWS's wind speed map)
Earlier today, at the evening press conference, PG&E officials explained that the winds currently blowing through the state are “Diablo Winds,” essentially the Northern Californian version of the famous Santa Ana Winds in the south. They expect these winds to pass by Friday afternoon, at which point their meteorologists will sound the all-clear for workers to begin inspecting lines, both on foot and with 45 helicopters. Apparently 6,300 workers will be involved in this inspection.
In phase 1 of the shut-off 513,000 customers had their power cut, and in phase 2 and additional 234,000 are expected to be de-energized. Again, customers are basically individual billing addresses, and because most people live with other people, the actual number of humans affected is in the millions.
When pressed by reporters about the past errors of the company or accepting blame, the officials demurred and blamed climate change.
One reporter at the press conference noted that PG&E had earmarked several billion dollars for improvements and hardening of the grid. He asked if could be confirmed that none of that money had gone into “the pockets of shareholders.” In response the official said that “That is not a question that is at the top of my mind,” refusing to answer.
UPDATE 10:35 p.m. -- Reports are coming in from the NWS and PG&E of increased wind speeds across the region. At higher elevations gusts of 50 mph have been Observed.
UPDATE 10:10 p.m. — Reports are coming out that PG&E's newly created website crashed promptly after being released on social media, causing the utility company to delete the their tweet. However, this link appears to provide access to what may be the maps on a newly created standalone PG&E website. Notably, this map appears to be hosted directly on the website of ArcGSI
At a 6 p.m. press conference this evening PG&E staff apologized for the website difficulties that have prevented millions of Californians from accessing updated information as to whether they will be facing a power shutdown. To address the problem PG&E officials stated that they had created a standalone website to provide information about the shutdowns.
During the conference one reporter even ask as whether the new website would be able to withstand the onslaught of visitors — the question was met with assurance from PG&E that it could. Reality subsequently proved these assurances unfounded.
Staff refused to provide the website's URL during the press conference, stating that it would be released across all "social channels" as soon as the press conference ended, which was around 6:45 p.m.
UPDATE 6:40 p.m. -- The North Coast's state senator, Mike McGuire, tweeted out that restoration of power to Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, and Trinity counties tomorrow afternoon:
UKIAH, 10/9/19 -- When the planned power outages began across Northern California, the company explained that they expected to conduct the outages in three phases. Now other news outlets are reporting that phase 2 has been pushed back to this evening, perhaps 8 p.m., at which time about 800 additional customers in Mendocino County are expected to have their power shut off. Pacific Gas & Electric is of course orchestrating these outages as a way to mitigate fire risk in the face of severe fire weather -- and those dangerous winds and low humidities are expected to arrive late this evening. In a press conference PG&E clarified that weather forecasts indicated that these winds would arrive later than previously believe, resulting in the delayed outages.
Across the state ordinary people and government officials have raised complaints about the way that this has been handled, and often questioned the necessity of preforming such extensive outages. PG&E is scheduled to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. which we will endeavor to share on our website, to hopefully answer some questions.
(Here is that press conference, you may need to click through to see it)
So far Mendocino County has avoided the brunt of both the weather and the outages, with relatively few and more outlying portions of the county de-energized. In Humboldt County, for instance, outages hit the county seat of Eureka, forcing the closure of county government services, whereas here in Mendocino Ukiah has remained unaffected by the outages, with only some areas in the unincorporated parts of town finding themselves without power — although other unincorporated parts of the county have lost power.
The County of Mendocino's Emergency Operation Center created this map of current power shut-offs in Mendocino County, which is probably the best map we've found of exactly where the outages are in our area:
Most of inland Mendocino County remains under a red flag warning. The National Weather Service, which is a division of the federal National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, continues to forecast very high winds and very low humidity tonight, across Northern California, but with some of the most drastic weather happening in the inland hill region, east and south of Hopland, including much of Lake, Sonoma, Napa, and Yolo counties. In Mendocino County high winds have been mostly localized in the coastal areas, which also have the benefit of higher humidity air. Of course, it is this combination of very low humidity, and high winds that makes this kind of wind so dangerous. By drying out vegetation and pushing more oxygen into a flame, such winds can cause a small spark to blow up to in a huge fire quickly.
PG&E’s website has been inconsistently operational and often down since the day prior to the shut-offs beginning, potentially due to the high volume of people trying to access it, but making it difficult for customers to get what little current information about outages and weather forecasts is available from the utility. In lieu of that, we’ve compiled a number of useful links. We’ve also noticed a difference between reports from our readers as to when and where their power has been shutdown as compared to PG&E’s map, so be aware that the utility may be experiencing lags in updating that information on their website. This was especially true during the first phase of power shutdowns that began early Tuesday morning.
Here are some useful maps and links:
- National Weather Service current wind speed map
- PG&E’s wind speed sensors are at the bottom of this webpage
PG&E provided an overview of the staffing in place to begin “visual safety inspections” which are necessary before re-energizing the lines, especially after high winds, which may have resulted in damage even though the power was shut off. There are 45 helicopters and 6300 “qualified personnel” that will perform these inspections, which PG&E will only be conducting during daylight hours “due to safety.” Once the fire risk has passed and lines and equipment has been fully visually inspected, then the company begin to turn power back on across the grid — so restoration time is entirely is dependent on how long it will take these men and women to check the equipment.
Here is a map of some of the wind gusts observed earlier today:
A “customer resource center” has been established in Ukiah, we took a short video from the scene. Staff were not authorized to talk to the press but provided a few details about the available amenities.
The supervisor at the resource center, one of three PG&E staff manning the relatively empty station, declined to provide the number of people who had visited the center, or really any other questions. However, he did say that the resource center in Lake County, located at the senior center in Clearlake, had been substantially more busy. The Ukiah center was not listed in all of PG&E’s announcements over the last several days, and the supervisor stated that other centers were larger and had more resources. During our visit for nearly an hour, three people stopped by the use the center, none at the same time. There are 28 of those centers set up statewide, with three more opening tomorrow, although for some customers facing outages it is a significant drive to the nearest center.
The Ukiah center is located in a large lot adjacent to the highway on-ramp on North State Street in Ukiah, and opened a few hours after 8 a.m. today. The center is guarded by two security staff, who will stay there overnight, although the center is only open during daylight, beginning around 8 a.m, and will close around dark “most days.” The set-up consisted of a folding table with about six folding chairs, a pop-up tilted at an angle to provide share, wifi, and a large power strip with about 15 plus outlets. There was also a laptop, reserved for PG&E staff use, and a trailer towing a mobile generator, in which we were told bottled water was stored. In the far corner of the parking lot, there is a single port-a-potty and hand cleaning station for those that might lack access to their indoor plumbing.
PG&E staff at the center said they would remain there until instructed to leave by PG&E, but would not state whether the center would be available until the power was actually restored around Mendocino County, just that they would await instruction from management.
In other weather matters, expect to see cooling temperatures, and freezing weather in Trinity County.
Here is a tweet from Cal Fire: