PG&E power shutdowns planned for today

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Strega 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #28820

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    PG&E is the power company in California, bankrupted by law suits stemming from the most tragic fires that took place in 2017 (October, I believe). Predictions are that weather conditions tonight will be similar to those back then.

    So panic ensues, and of course some people are crying wolf, but who really knows what will transpire. I predict that controlled power outages will take place, and will possibly keep fires from sparking due to power lines banging into each other in the wind. But then, if no fires take place, we still can’t know for sure it was because inert power lines just harmlessly banged into each other. (Unless maybe someday they add some tech, like low-voltage sensing to keep track of when power lines bang into each other. I don’t know if that idea has ever been discussed.)

    Anyways, sans any tragedy caused by powered up power lines, I’ll bet that a lot of people will complain about the power outages. But there is still humor here, in a facebook post supposedly posted by one city’s police department:

    State of California, humorously marked almost all red wit magic marker and saying "PG&E says prepare for power shutdowns in select areas of California marked in red."

    I may be over-simplifying the “power lines banging into each other” scenario, because I haven’t actually followed the forensics used to blame PG&E. Maybe power lines even broke and then sparked on the ground or something, I don’t know. I just chalk these failures up to the foibles of Humanity’s Modernity. Where people blame each other even for a lot of the unpredicted tragedies, and are not willing or able to spend money on the “right kinds of research and prevention”. And then we spend it instead on treatments and recoveries, like in health care. And we pray.

    #28822

    Strega
    Moderator

    Stay safe!  I forgot you were in Cali. Saw something about the power to 800,000 homes will be deliberately shut down. Keep us posted!

    #28823

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Yup, I have my own stories about the 2017 and 2018 fires, but they pale in comparison to tens of thousands of others here. I even made my own breathing mask out of a CPAP mask, a trimmed HEPA filter, and a gallon plastic jug during some days that were so smokey that most people left town (as recommended by health and emergency authorities), but no flames ever came close. Also had to tape a HEPA filter to the CPAP machine for sleeping.

    Winds are forecast to peak tonight and early morning.

    #28824

    I have friends in Ukiah up in Mendocino and they are not affected. I saw some of the damage cause in the areas around Santa Rosa last year.  I hope all goes OK for you.

    #29092

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    So thousands of people and some of their representatives in the political (etc.) system complained about the power outages conducted by PG&E to prevent fires.

    Two weeks later, starting two days ago (on Wednesday night), high winds, hot and dry came back, and PG&E cut power again in areas to reduce risk, but it wasn’t enough. A fire ignited, went out of control immediately, and soon destroyed the home of a good family friend of ours. Similar weather is forecast for the next few days, into Monday.

    Here’s a story that includes near-infrared surveillance camera time-lapse footage (58 seconds) that recorded the moment a high voltage tower in the distance broke which putatively caused the Kincade fire, and ends about 40 minutes into the fire spread. You can’t see the tower, but notice a bright light near left center, on the horizon, that loses power the moment the high voltage short starts (scroll down past the picture gallery): https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the?ref=moststory .

    As of this (Friday) morning, the fire is still only 5% contained and has burned 34 square miles, but no reports of deaths or missing people. There is another large fire just north of Los Angeles. I’m far enough away to not have to worry about my own safety or power outages.

    Already in bankruptcy court, PG&E shares in the stock market have taken a big hit in the past couple of days. I predict enough people will finally quit focusing on blame stories, and promote solutions that involve other ideas and third parties (i.e. besides just PG&E). There are scientists on the scene now, studying how to improve predictions on where fires will spread. I’ve decided to do some volunteer work for an organization that promotes awareness of constructive responses to climate change.

    #29093

    Strega
    Moderator

    Tough times, Popie. I’m glad you’re safe. Volunteer work that you’re contemplating would be a great way to contribute to the wellbeing of your state. Best of luck with that!

    #29094

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Another argument for locally generated power. Good time to buy Generac stock, I am sure they are selling generators as fast as they can make them.

    #29095

    I was in Healdsburg last December and one  discussion was about some of the lucky escapes people had that summer. Everyone knew somebody that was directly effected by the fires. Healdsburg is a great place to visit so I hope all are OK there. I stayed in Ukiah for a few days after that so I will call the guys later to see how they are all doing.

    #29098

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Good time to buy Generac stock, I am sure they are selling generators as fast as they can make them.

    Another company that impressed me a great deal back in 2017 is Purple Air, who makes pro-sumer grade instruments that report realtime air quality measurements via internet. Los Angeles atm looks pretty clean at 12:30pm today, but if you look at northern CA, you can see instantly where smoke particles are, even if it’s invisible to the naked eye. (Clicking the above links later will show air quality at the time you click on it, e.g. they will almost all be green sometime after the fires pass.) And clicking on an instrument displays more detailed information, including recent history, so a trained eye can even predict the direction of local air movement.

    In the links above, you can zoom in to see individual stations, many of which are at someone’s home, outdoors or even indoors. In 2017 I used these reports to see air quality practically instantly, while official reports over radio and other websites were up to a few hours behind. In one case, when the smoke was clearing, I noticed air quality reported from inside a hospital was still significantly lower than the air quality outside, and I thought about calling them to open their windows in case they weren’t monitoring their own instruments!

    But for the record, here’s a map, current as of time of this writing:

    Earlier this morning, winds were blowing south-southwesterly, and I’m guessing that some coastal winds were blowing west-northerly.

    #29120

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Getting realer now. About 50k people ordered to evacuate: http://nixle.us/BDSNC

    #29122

    @Pope Beanie – That is not looking too good. Is the power gone too? I hope all are safe. Can you tell me how far north the evac order extends if you get a chance. Up to Hopland or the Frog Woman Rock? Power appears out in parts of Ukiah too.

    #29125

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Just spoke to someone in Sonora..in Tuolomne county who got message just now..power outage imminent

    #29181

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

     

     

    Caption: This photo of newlyweds Katie and Curtis Ferland at their wedding at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood went viral when photographer Karna Roa posted it on Facebook. The photo was taken in late afternoon on Saturday, Oct. 26, with smoke from the Kincade wildfire, bearing down on Healdsburg and Windsor, in the background creating an orange sky around the sun and the couple, who flew in from Chicago, wearing respirator masks. (Karna Roa)

     

     

     


    I could be wrong but those masks look like N95s, not very useful except to filter out ash and soot from nearby fires. If he’s wearing a beard, even an N100 mask would be mostly useless.

    With so much more power out for safety’s sake than back in 2017, another local baby boom is expected, but larger. 😉

    #29182

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Can you tell me how far north the evac order extends if you get a chance.

    Yikes, I’m sorry I missed that question! One way is to google ‘pg&e psps map‘ or similar, partly because the data sources and presentations evolve from year to year (or faster), so don’t expect any link to last longer than one event. (psps = public safety power shutoff) But there is one source of data that’s been a consistent favorite of mine since 2017:

    For future reference, once again I highly recommend purpleair.com for reliable, up-to-the minute air quality status, unless instruments are not able to report when power is down. All the grey dots you see (below in today’s example) are purpleair stations without power, and clicking on a dot brings up a graph that shows recent history of measurements, which is also a way to learn how many minutes, hours, or days ago power went down. I really don’t understand why radio and print news sources rarely mention purpleair instead of relying so heavily on government data which tends to lag behind by a couple to several hours. I can even (usually) predict speed and direction of smoke based on surrounding purple air station data, and several times knew what was happening hours before such information was broadcasted.

    #29183

    Thanks for that info. I am not sure if the guys in Ukiah even know about this. I am hoping not to much damage to the weed crop occurs for them. I know it is a bit selfish in the scale of things but it is a new business and I know another farm (by the Russian River) that may lose a lot. They were also due to open a consultancy office in town today so not sure if that will go ahead. There are bigger concerns to be worried about.

    I hope you are all doing well and that the worst of it is behind you. I forgot that I mentioned the Squaw Rock in the question. You’d swear I was a local. My long-term ambition is to be one!! Well, at least for a few months a year.

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