67,000 lose power in Humboldt County from the storms: Here’s what we know

Most of affected customers had power restored by Friday afternoon

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An estimated 67,000 customers in Humboldt County woke up this morning with no power, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said.

The power went out early Friday morning as a result of transmission lines being affected by the powerful storm that blanketed parts of the county in snow and pelted others with more than an inch of rain.

PG&E says it is working to restore power. By 9:30 a.m., parts of Eureka were starting to see power restored. The Times-Standard building was repowered around 9:15 a.m.

As of 4 p.m., fewer than 4,000 customers remain without power, PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras said in an email, including just over 1,000 in Leggett (in southern Humboldt County) and Laytonville (Mendocino County), areas that experienced snowfall during the storm.

“The safety of our customers, crews and communities is our most important responsibility,” PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras said in an email to the Times-Standard.

“PG&E has multiple transmission, distribution and substation crews working on the restoration,” Contreras said. “PG&E has begun flying helicopters this morning to do aerial inspections of transmission lines.”

The utility will continue to employ restoration work into the evening. Contreras said the winter storm caused damage across multiple incidents, including “a broken pole, a damaged transmission tower and downed wires.”

She added that the county is continuing to experience “severe weather conditions,” including six-to-seven feet of snow falling in certain areas, along with fog.

The National Weather Service, on the other hand, said few places in Humboldt County have seen that much snow (in this week’s storm or at large), and that the number is closer to three feet even in communities at high elevations.

Mountainous areas in Humboldt County aren’t very populated, said meteorologist Alex Dodd.

“It’s possible the PG&E transmission lines go over some of the peaks,” Dodd said. “Not many people live up there or travel up there.”

But Contreras reiterated that PG&E crews are reporting snow in that quantity, though she said specific locations are unclear because “crews are fanned across the county.”

PG&E meteorologists are additionally reporting a wind gust of 60 miles per hour in a single locations, along with 30 to 40 mile-per-hour gusts in other areas.

Caltrans is urging residents to be more cautious driving with some traffic lights out this morning.

“With a power outage (affecting) much of Humboldt County, you may come across a dark or non-functioning signals,” the Caltrans District 1 office tweeted. “Please treat dark signals like a four-way stop and flashing red lights as a stop sign.”

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is urging people not to call 911 unless there is an emergency.

“PLEASE only call law enforcement for police/fire/medical needs and emergencies,” the office posted on Facebook this morning.

The office also warned there could be continuing outages, even as power was being restored across the county.

“PG&E has advised our office that there could be additional power impacts due to continuing winter conditions,” a Facebook post states.

School closures, school events

A big event at Humboldt State was canceled, according to the Humboldt County Office of Education.

“Today was the big GATE academy event at HSU, which has been canceled,” said Jenny Bowen, HCOE spokesperson, in an email.

HCOE is also maintaining a spreadsheet of school closures, showing schools across the county closed today.

Humboldt State University is closed for the day, and employees are asked not to come to work unless they hear from a supervisor. Besides a student orientation earlier in the morning, HSU will not be open for any campus activities.

“Power has been restored to campus, but HSU employees and Auxiliary employees… are not required to come into work unless directed otherwise by your appropriate administrators,” HSU said in a statement. “Hourly employees of both HSU and the Auxiliaries are on administrative leave for today and will be paid for their scheduled work hours.”

The first day of classes at HSU are still expected to begin as normal on Tuesday.

Health care

Open Door Community Health Centers in Ferndale, Fortuna and Arcata are operating under generator power today.

“All but one of our Eureka health centers are operational and seeing patients as usual,” said Open Door spokesperson Erik Salholm in an email. “Patients of Redwood Community Health Center are being seen at other nearby sites; patients should call (707) 443-4593 to confirm where they will be seen.”

St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka has been fully repowered after a short period of operating on generators. The hospital’s services were briefly limited during the outage and some elective procedures needed to be rescheduled, spokesperson Christian Hill said.”:

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