PG&E said fire-prevention power outages are possible in parts of the Bay Area on Wednesday and Thursday as it anticipated a “potential Diablo wind event.”
Screen print artist Thomas Wojak waits out the electrical outage in his darkened live/work studio in Vallejo during a fire-prevention outage in 2019. PG&E may implement more outages this week across its service territory as fire risk increases.
Other parts of the utility’s vast service territory may also be affected, with outages potentially extending into Friday.
Areas with the highest probability of shut-offs are the northern Sierra foothills; middle and high elevations generally north of Yosemite; as well as in the North Bay mountains and potentially parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains, PG&E said on its website.
“Gusts at or above 50 mph are looking possible in elevated terrain in the North Bay and Northern Sierra,” with vegetation drying out due to warmer weather, the utility said.
The strongest offshore winds are expected to reach the north and East Bay hills between Wednesday night and Friday, causing the highest concern for fire conditions, said National Weather Service meteorologist Wilfred Pi. Winds are expected to reach 30 or 40 miles per hour at the highest elevations and may increase in strength as Wednesday nears, he said.
Because of current dry conditions, Pi said there is more than a 50% chance that red flag or fire watch warnings may be issued, but decisions will be made Monday morning.
The outages are not a certainty. PG&E said the possibility of outages was “elevated.” If they grow more certain, PG&E will update the status to “watch,” and finally — when the utility believes they are fairly definite — to a “warning.”
PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said that “no customers have been notified” and more specific geographic areas have not been pinpointed at this time.
It is unclear how many customers could be affected, but the utility has said it strives to ensure outages affect as few as possible while maintaining fire safety.
PG&E’s equipment has caused major wildfires in recent years. It is newly under scrutiny in the 56,000-acre Zogg Fire in Shasta County, which has killed four people and is now 99% contained. No cause of that fire has been determined, but Cal Fire investigators have taken PG&E equipment near the origin of the fire.
PG&E had said last week that outages in parts of northeastern California and the Sierra foothills were possible this weekend, but it later said they would not happen as the weather calmed.
Chronicle staff writer Vanessa Arredondo contributed to this report.