UPDATE 8:30 a.m. — A winter storm warning is now in effect for various part of the Coastal Range and the Sierra Nevada and other areas across Northern California. Debris flows are possible in some places, especially in the burn scar of the Kincade Fire. In Sonoma County there is a flash flood watch in place for areas in an around the burn scar. PG&E is still warning that the winter storm could bring unplanned outages to the North Coast, and for everyone to be prepared.
In Santa Barbara the Cave Fire grew to 4100 acres overnight and large areas remained evacuated.
WILLITS, 11/26/19 — A year of bizarre and record setting weather continues as much of the state appears to be transitioning directly from summer to winter, while skipping fall. A major winter storm is expected to arrive this afternoon, bringing heavy rain and inches of snow in the surrounding mountains — feet of snow in the Sierras. The storm will also bring high winds, especially in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, and Pacific Gas & Electric is warning that the weather might result in power outages, the unplanned variety that we were familiar with before this year. The utility company is urging everyone to prepare for the power to once again go out, depending on the severity of the storm (read more below).
And this storm, which is expected to last from today through Thanksgiving will likely be followed up by another milder bout of rain, on Saturday and Sunday, likely putting an end to fire season.
However, down in Santa Barbara the dry gusty winds that have ravaged California all through this autumn have given the state one final terror as the Cave Fire exploded up to 3300 acres by yesterday evening, with 0% containment, forcing the evacuation of parts of Santa Barbara.
It is hoped that the storm will arrive in time to quench the fire. But it should be noted that this has been an unusually long fire season and that to have a winter storm so close to major fire is yet another example of the record breaking weather that climate change is bringing to California.
Indeed, this summer saw record breaking temperatures across the state, while the autumn has been close to or the single direst autumn to date depending on which part of the state one is in. Over the past 50 years we have seen a significant temperature increase in the western United States, resulting in longer fire seasons and more destructive fires. For more on how climate change has affected fire in the West, scroll down (or click here).
And just above where those fires are burning, as well as on mountain passes across the state, snow levels are expected to drop, potentially below 3000′ resulting in hazardous road conditions, and potentially even road closures, for instance on I-80 heading over the Sierra Nevada, and over the Tejon and Cajon passes, on I-5 and I-15 respectively, heading into Los Angeles.
For those of you traveling, the National Weather Service has created a new forecasting tool that plots what the weather is supposed to be along your driving route. It’s still very much a beta, but worth checking out. And of course you can check out the CalTrans QuickMap page for the latest on road information.
So while it might make for some interesting travels, and probably significant delays, we have to say here at The Mendocino Voice that this Thanksgiving we are thankful for precipitation, in all its glorious forms. And our thoughts are with our fellow Californians suffering through the last terrors of the rapidly closing fire season, may these be the last fires of 2019.
The following is the press release from PG&E:
PG&E meteorologists are forecasting a major winter storm to impact much of PG&E’s service area this week. The event will include strong southerly winds, heavy rain, heavy mountain snow, thunderstorms and cold temperatures. This storm has the potential to produce customer outages. This is NOT a Public Safety Power Shutoff event.
PG&E encourages customers to have a plan, prepare for power outages and above all else, stay safe. Here are some tips for customers:
- Have flashlights, radios and fresh batteries ready and know where to go for updates on storm conditions and power outages.
- 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.
- 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.
- Secure outdoor furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items that can be blown by high winds to prevent them from damaging overhead power lines and property.
- If you have a stand-by generator, make sure that it’s installed safely and inform PG&E to avoid risking damage to your property and endangering PG&E workers. Information on the safe installation of generators can be found on our website at www.pge.com/generator.
- Treat all low hanging and downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Be aware of trees, pools of water and other objects that may be in contact with power lines. If you see damaged power lines and electric equipment, call 911, and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
- If your power goes out, unplug or turn off all electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits and 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.
- Street lights: At night, the streets will be much darker than usual and will look different. Follow all posted speed limits – or drive a bit slower. Use turn signals when changing lanes and especially at corners with crosswalks.
- Traffic Signals: If traffic signals are out or flashing red, come to a full stop at every intersection, and proceed as you would at a four-way stop.
Customers can get updates on outages in their neighborhood through a variety of channels.
- Contact our outage information line at 1-800-743-5002
- Access our Electric Outage Map online at pge.com
- Customers can also log-in to their account through pge.com and sign up to receive proactive outage alerts through email, text or phone
And here’s a bit more on the interaction between climate change and wildfire:climatepdf