With fire weather conditions returning to northern California again, authorities are warning that it may become necessary to shut down portions of the California power grid again to prevent wildfires. The combination of high winds, low humidity levels, and overall dry conditions have weather officials warning of a possible increased risk of wildfires in the Bay Area this week; as a result, local electricity provider PG&E is monitoring the potential for more power shutoffs later in the week.
Light-to-moderate northeast winds with poor humidity are forecasted for today and tomorrow followed by moderate to strong winds on Wednesday and Thursday. As winds pick up, so will temperatures: highs in the area should rise into the mid to upper 80’s throughout the week.
With the risk of high winds bringing down wires, a PG&E spokesperson says they may need to shut off the power in the Sierra Foothills, Yolo County and parts of Napa, Lake and Sonoma Counties. The National Weather Service cautions that wind gusts may reach or exceed 55 mph in these areas.
Just weeks ago, on October 9-10, more than 2 million people were plunged into darkness when utilities cut power preventatively in high wind risk areas to reduce the threat of wildfires.
Last spring, fire officials concluded that equipment operated by PG&E caused the most destructive wildfire in California’s history last November: the Camp Fire of 2018. That fire killed 85 people, left several firefighters injured, and destroyed more than 150,000 acres across portions of northern California. Investigators determined that PG&E-controlled electrical transmission lines near the community of Pulga, located nearly 100 miles north of Sacramento, sparked the fire. Dry vegetation, strong winds and low humidity created a perfect fire weather scenario, creating a fast-moving conflagration that burned through the communities of Concow, Paradise and Magalia.