Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) team of meteorologists is forecasting a series of winter storms over the next several days. PG&E is encouraging customers to be prepared and have a plan in case of weather-related power outages.
The storm series is shaping up to be an atmospheric river-type event with widespread heavy rain, gusty winds, and heavy, low-elevation snow, and will unfold Tuesday afternoon and continue into Thursday. The effects will be felt across the entire PG&E service area, particularly in the Sierra foothills, where snow levels could drop as low as 2,000 feet. At higher elevations, accumulation could mean several feet of snow.
“While cold temperatures, heavy mountain snow, and precipitation will deliver some much-needed moisture to our drought-impacted region, we expect this adverse weather to also result in some weather-related power outages. We’re urging our customers to stay safe and have a plan. Our team is closely watching this storm series and where it could hit the hardest so we’re ready to restore power safely and efficiently,” said PG&E Manager of Meteorology and Fire Science, Scott Strenfel.
PG&E’s meteorology team leverages its Storm Outage Prediction Model that incorporates real-time weather forecasts, 30 years of historical weather and outage data along with system knowledge to accurately predict when and where storm impacts will be most severe. This model enables the company to pre-stage crews, equipment and resources as storms approach to enable rapid response to outages.
Along the North Coast and in the Sacramento Valley, over a 48-hour period starting Tuesday night, two to four inches of rain are possible for low-elevation and urban areas, with six to eight inches of snow accumulation across elevated terrain and through the northern Sierra. In the Central and Southern Sierra, PG&E meteorologists say, heavy mountain snows will occur and gusty winds are expected to develop, with the strongest gusts peaking around 55-65 mph; in the Bay Area, this system will bring moderate to heavy rainfall and gusty winds through Thursday evening, with a slight possibility of some snow accumulation on the highest peaks of the surrounding hills.
The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office has issued a Winter Storm Watch for some areas, forecasting that snow levels could be 18-24 inches in Quincy, 24-36 inches at Yosemite National Park, 36-48 inches in Mt. Shasta City and 60-80 inches at the Tioga Pass.
Storm Safety Tips:
• Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it — and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
• Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. If you must use candles, keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
• Have a backup phone: 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.
• Have fresh drinking water, ice: 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: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines and property.
• Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
• Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent 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.
• Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 811 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.
For the most up-to-date information on outages, visit pge.com/outagemap.