PG&E has confirmed a massive Public Safety Power Shutoff that could begin as early as midnight Wednesday and last up to five days in portions of 34 counties across Northern and Central California, affecting up to 800,000 customers.
The planned outage is a response to anticipated wind gusts that the National Weather Service said could reach up to 70 mph in some areas Thursday. The high winds and dry conditions present excessive fire danger and power is being shut off to avoid sparks in the case that power lines are knocked down.
PG&E’s PSPS alert website has been down much of Tuesday, overwhelmed by people attempting to check the shifting outage map and looking for updates. However, people can register for alerts in their area by texting “ENROLL” to 97633.
City, county and transit officials throughout the North, East and South Bay are quickly working to prepare for the shutoff. Specific area information can be found below and will be updated as the situation progresses.
Sonoma County and the city of Santa Rosa declared a local emergency and activated their Emergency Operation Centers Tuesday afternoon.
The Sonoma County Office of Education is reporting that 16 school districts and several Santa Rosa schools will be closed at least Wednesday.
Alexander Valley is scheduled for closure Thursday, Mark West Union and Windsor Union school districts are projecting Thursday closure and Sonoma Valley Unified School District is planning closure through Friday. Updates will be provided on the county department website.
Santa Rosa school closures include: Maria Carrillo High School, Rincon Valley Middle School, Santa Rosa Middle School, Hidden Valley Elementary School, Protor Terrace Elementary School, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School and Lewis Education Center. All after-school activities and services, including childcare, will also be unavailable. Parents are encouraged to visit www.srcschools.org for school district updates.
All Santa Rosa Junior College campuses will be closed Wednesday and all activities and classes, even those online, are canceled until further notice.
Napa County is expecting up to 32,000 PG&E customers to be impacted by the Public Safety Power Shutoff beginning Wednesday. Residents can call the bilingual emergency information line at (707) 299-1501. County officials will share updates using Nixle and social media platforms.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office estimates approximately 10,000 households will be without power. Vulnerable residents can contact the Marin Health and Human Services’ resource line at (415) 457-INFO if adversely affected by an extended outage.
Alameda County officials warn that 32,000 PG&E customers could be without power throughout the county, with the greatest concern focused along the hills from Berkeley to Fremont. People can sign up for emergency alerts throughout the county by visiting ACAlert.org.
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin warned residents in an email that power could be shut off in parts of the city’s hills. The city’s website provides safety tips and information to prepare in the case of evacuation.
University of California at Berkeley announced that classes are canceled for Wednesday since a core portion of the campus will be without power as of 8 a.m.
Oakland is expecting the outage to primarily impact neighborhoods in the hills, although the shutoff could extend to other areas in the event of a fire. Oakland Fire Chief Darin White is asking residents to be prepared for 72 hours without power.
All schools in the Oakland Unified School District except for Skyline High School will remain open Wednesday. The district had announced earlier Tuesday that 12 schools would be closed, but PG&E revised their shutoff timing for the area, with power now expected to be cut off at noon. Schools operate on a minimum day schedule Wednesdays and classes will end around 1:30 p.m.
Twelve of 83 schools in the Oakland Unified School District will be closed Wednesday. The district will provide updates on their website.
San Leandro neighborhoods south of Durant Avenue, east of Interstate Highway 880 and north of 139th Avenue may be affected in the initial power shutoff, although additional areas could be impacted as weather conditions change. All schools in the San Leandro Unified School District will be closed Wednesday.
Santa Rita County Jail should not impacted because the facility’s power is self-sufficient.
Contra Costa County has been warned that approximately 40,200 PG&E customers are expected to lose electrical service. The Highway 24 corridor – Orinda, Lafayette and Moraga – is of particular concern.
Portions of northeast Concord are now within the scheduled shutoff area. Up to 1,600 Walnut Creek customers could be impacted and the city offers alerts for those who register using the WC Alert system.
Caltrans officials said the Caldecott Tunnels between Alameda and Contra Costa counties may close Tuesday evening. Power is required to operate tunnels and the transportation agency is working with PG&E to try and establish emergency power, but that is not a guarantee at this point.
The city of San Jose is planning to activate its Emergency Operations Center at 10 p.m. Tuesday night. It is expected that approximately 38,000 PG&E customers in Santa Clara County will be affected by the outage, especially in the foothills of east San Jose and in Almaden Valley in the southern portion of the city.
A Community Resource Center offering water, air conditioning and charging stations will be set up in the Avaya Stadium at 1145 Coleman Ave. Residents can check www.sanjoseca.gov for critical information and updates.
All San Jose schools in the Alum Rock Union School District will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Closures beyond what is now planned will be further assessed and announced by 4 p.m. Thursday. The district plans to provide updates on their Facebook page and at https://www.arusd.org/emergency-status. Although students are being asked to stay away from schools, teachers are expected to report to work as usual.
The Tom Lantos Tunnel could be shut down Tuesday evening if power is cut out in the area, according to Caltrans. However, Caltrain and buses in San Mateo County Transit District are not expected to be impacted.
BART officials say they do not anticipate service disruptions during the power outage. They claim their ability to “pull power from other sections” of the power supply system will keep trains moving and generators will be used to maintain tunnel fans and other critical systems.
SMART trains are expected to run regularly.
Motorists are urged to use 511.org or listen to newscasts for the latest information. Both sets of tunnels may be closed for as many as five days.
General safety tips during extended outages:
- Arrange alternate power sources, lights, chargers, batteries and other necessities such as food and water prior to midnight Wednesday.
- Avoid perishable foods held in the “temperature danger zone” of 41° F to 135° F .
- Do not use coals to barbecue during gusty wind weather events.
- Do not idle vehicles in affected hills.
- Do not use tools that produce heat, such as lawn mowers.
- Exercise caution while driving, riding or walking on streets where traffic signals are out.
- Do not call 911 unless you need to report an actual emergency.
Update, 7:30 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect information related to Tom Lantos and Caldecott tunnels, UC Berkeley and seven Santa Rosa schools.
Update, 7:59 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect a change announced by Oakland Unified School District.
Update, 8:31 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect additional school closures in Sonoma County.