UPDATE: Blackout Could Hit Humboldt Hours Earlier Than Expected, Sheriff Warns to Prepare to Lose Power at Any Time

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UPDATE:
In the company’s latest press release, PG&E is notifying the public that power will be shut off to more than 900,000 customers across 36 California counties in phases this afternoon. And the list of scheduled phases indicates power may be cut in Humboldt County earlier than the company is reporting.

PG&E has repeatedly told county officials and residents that the shutoff will begin locally at 5 p.m., and that’s represented in the phases in the company’s recent press release. However, the release also states that Shasta County will see its power cut at 2 p.m. Because the two lines transmitting electricity into Humboldt County originate in Shasta County — which PG&E and local officials have identified as the reason the entirety of Humboldt County will lose power in this blackout even though only certain portions are forecast to be at elevated fire risks — it seems Humboldt County may lose power at the same time Shasta County does, which would be three hours earlier than anticipated.

The historic Arcata Minor Theater bathed in moonlight beneath the stars during the PG&E power shutoff. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The historic Arcata Minor Theater bathed in moonlight beneath the stars during the PG&E power shutoff.
The Journal has reached out to local and PG&E officials about this, but most have not responded. Sheriff William Honsal said in a text message to the Journal that he’s unsure, saying PG&E hasn’t been “organized” with the flow of information and that estimated shutoff times have repeatedly changed even though weather forecasts have not.

“Right now they are telling us 5 p.m. but if they are cutting the 299 line and the 36 line at 2 p.m. then we will lose power then,” he texted. “We are relying on a company that has been anything but consistent with its information. The red flag warning begins at 6 p.m. tonight in the north state. Humboldt County should be prepared to lose power any time this afternoon.”

We’ll update this post with additional information if and when we get it. But until then, it seems wise for Humboldt County to prepare to go dark a few hours earlier than expected.

See the latest press release from PG&E copied below our original post.


PREVIOUSLY:
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services announced this morning that a host of charging stations and community centers will open throughout the county after the start of the PG&E blackout that’s expected to begin at 5 p.m. today and stretch at least several days.

In a press release, the office is urging residents to be as prepared as possible, and not delay in charging their devices and stocking up on supplies. Additionally, the office warns the county is forecast to see some cold temperatures, so residents should plan accordingly.

The duration of the outage, the office warns, will be entirely managed by PG&E.

See the full press release, which includes the locations and schedules of charging and community centers, copied below:

PG&E Power Shutoff Saturday Morning Update
Oct. 26, 2019
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (Sheriff’s OES) is preparing for a planned PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) due to extreme fire weather conditions in parts of Humboldt County. The latest information from the utility indicates power is scheduled to be shut down at 5 p.m. today. Residents are encouraged to prepare to be without power for several days. The length and duration of the outage and estimated time of restoral is entirely managed by PG&E.
The Emergency Operations Center has been activated, and public safety is Sheriff’s OES primary focus at this time. Emergency 911 dispatch is operational and not expected to be impacted by the PSPS. Anyone experiencing a life-threatening emergency should call 911. Do not call 911 for information about the outage. Emergency responders are contacting medically vulnerable residents to ensure their health and safety during the PSPS.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Red Flag Warning for critical fire weather conditions and a High Wind Warning for potentially damaging winds for primarily southeast Humboldt County. All of Humboldt County will see nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s along the coast and 30s across inland areas through early next week. Residents are urged to prepare for cold weather. Use caution and be aware of fire danger if using a wood stove or fireplace for home heating. Never use a generator or camp stove indoors. Use of candles is discouraged, but if absolutely necessary, never leave them unattended.
Multiple city- and agency-sponsored Community Resource Centers (CRC) will open around the county to help residents charge medical and other devices. Residents are encouraged to utilize these facilities to charge electronic medical devices enough to last through the night. Any additional locations and schedule changes will be announced as information becomes available. Follow Humboldt County OES on Facebook for the most recent updates. www.facebook.com/HumboldtCountyOES/

Arcata Community Center - 321 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Arcata (Priority given to those with medical needs.)
·        Saturday, Oct. 26 - noon to 6 p.m.
·        Sunday, Oct. 27 - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
·        Monday, Oct. 28 - Open at 10 a.m.

Eureka Municipal Auditorium - 1120 F St, Eureka (Must bring your own charging cable)
·        Saturday, Oct. 26 - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Humboldt Bay Fire Bode Classroom “Medical Device Charging Station” – 3030 L St., Eureka
·        Saturday, Oct. 26 – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fortuna Fireman’s Pavilion - 9 Park Street, Fortuna, CA (PG&E-sponsored)
·        Sunday, Oct. 27 – Open at 8 a.m.

Pierson Park – 1705 Gwin Rd., McKinleyville (PG&E-sponsored)
·        Sunday, Oct. 27 – Open at 8 a.m.

Blue Lake Rancheria – 428 Chartin Rd. (PG&E-sponsored)
·        Sunday, Oct. 27 – Open at 8 a.m.

US Forest Service Big Rock Day-Use Area – 2383-2405 Trinity River Highway, Willow Creek (PG&E-sponsored)
·        Sunday, Oct. 27 – Open at 8 a.m.

Hoopa Neighborhood Facilities – 11900 CA-96 (PG&E-sponsored)
·        Times TBD


From PG&E:

Historic Wind Event Forecast to Cause Dangerous Conditions Until Midday Monday

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Due to weather forecasts indicating potential for a historic wind event this weekend, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) confirmed it will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) affecting approximately 940,000 customers—an increase of about 90,000 from previous estimates—in portions of 36 counties. Widespread dry, hot and windy weather is expected to begin impacting the service area today between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and through midday Monday.

As this weather system sweeps from north to south over a period of two to three days, PG&E customers across Northern and Central California will feel the effects of hot, dry winds at different times, which means outage times will vary as well.

Customers are encouraged to visit www.pge.com/eventmaps and use the address look up tool to confirm if they will be impacted by this PSPS event.

Power Will Be Turned Off in Phases
The PSPS will occur in six phases, times may change (earlier or later) dependent on weather. The first phase will begin about 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 26. Customer impacts will include these counties: Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Sierra, Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama and Yuba.

The second phase will occur around 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in the following counties: Lake, Marin, Mendocino (south), Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo.

Phase three will begin about 5 p.m. Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in these counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus.

Phase four will begin about 5 p.m. Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in these counties: Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne.

Phase five begin about 5 p.m. Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in these counties: Humboldt, Mendocino (north) and Trinity.

The sixth and final phase is scheduled to begin 10 a.m., Sunday, October 27, impacting customers in Kern County.

The power will be turned off to communities in stages, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions.

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