Windy weekend prompts PG&E warning

Humboldt County likely to see highest winds in unpopulated areas of county

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. warned of high winds this weekend, but emphasized a planned power outage is not going to happen. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)
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Pacific Gas and Electric Co. warned of strong winds this weekend but emphasized there will not be a public safety power shutoff as a result.

Nevertheless, there is the possibility of unplanned outages — and the utility is encouraging residents to be prepared.

PG&E said there are expected to be high winds in portions of Northern California.

“PG&E meteorologists are predicting the 30-45 mph gusts in several areas of the entire county on Saturday but only the far southern part and upper ridges (and) elevated terrain on Sunday,” said PG&E spokesman Deanna Contreras on Friday afternoon of what is expected in Humboldt County.

The utility recognized that many areas of the northern part of the state would not be prone to wildfires because “fuel and soil moisture values remain high due to winter season precipitation,” it said in a news release.

Ryan Aylward, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Eureka said the highest winds are expected to be in the southern parts of the county in higher elevations.

“The strongest winds are going to be way further south .. Napa, Sonoma, Lake county areas,” said Aylward. “We’ll probably have some winds on the ridges in the southern half of the county ” that hit as high as 40 miles per hour.

He added that the National Weather Services issues warnings when wind speed hits 58 miles per hour and an advisory when it hits 45 miles per hour.

“We only do that when it’s going to affect people,” he added, noting that the area where the winds would be the highest are unpopulated.

Contreras noted that there is PG&E infrastructure in those areas even though people do not live there.

“The distribution lines run throughout the (county) in unpopulated areas,” she said.

“For Humboldt, we are keeping an eye on the weather and we are alerted to strong winds,” Contreras added. “But we don’t believe this is going to impact Humboldt County as much as some areas.”

She added that the utility wants customers to be prepared for outages whether or not they occur. She provided a list of tips to help residents be ready.

Storm safety tips

  • Drive safely: Watch fro fallen limbs and other debris in the wake of big storms.
  • Don’t touch downed lines: It’s best to assume any downed line is still energized. Do not touch or try to move the lines. Downed lines can be reported by calling 911 or calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
  • Use flashlights, not candles: Avoid the risk of fire with the use of flashlights. If you do use candles, do not leave them unattended and keep them away from flammable items.
  • Keep a cell phone charged: Phones that depend on electricity will not work in the event of an outage.
  • Have drinking water, ice on hand: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that will keep your food cold in the event of an outage.
  • Use generators safely: Make sure to use generators in a well-ventilated area. If you have a standby electric generator, make sure it is installed by a licensed electrician. Improperly installed generators are a danger to customers.

Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.

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