SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — With Friday’s high fire threat, many across Northern California were bracing for Pacific Gas and Electric’s public safety power shutoffs, but the utility never issued one.
Northern California late this week faced a familiar foe that threatens to jumpstart another difficult fire season.READ MORE: Yolo County Program Trades Safe Fireworks For Illegal Ones
“PG&E has analysts and meteorologists in our service territory looking at all of the data coming in from all of our weather stations in high fire-threat areas across Northern and Central California gathering data,” said Deanna Contreras, a PG&E spokesperson. “We also have cameras, so we’re spotting for any fires that might pop up.”
This week’s red flag warning signaled a dangerous combination of heat, low humidity and strong winds in several counties, adding to the hazards in our drought-stricken state. Several fires popped up all across the Sacramento region.
So, if conditions are so ripe, why isn’t PG&E shutting off power to customers?
“A lot of those things just don’t meet the criteria for PG&E to enact a public safety power shutoff,” Contreras said.READ MORE: Experts: California Lacked Safeguards For Gun Owner Info
So what are the criteria? The utility tells us:
- low humidity levels — typically 30% or below
- high winds — specifically, sustained winds above 19 miles per hour and gusts between 30-40
- a red flag warning
- real-time ground observations from its wildfire safety operations center.
- and the condition of vegetation
“The fuel moisture hasn’t been there, so it doesn’t meet the threshold,” Contreras said. “So PG&E will not be issuing a public safety power shutoff in the next week.”
But down the road could be a different story. That’s why the utility says getting prepared now will take away some of the panic when an emergency strikes.
“Always have a plan in case your power goes out,” Contreras said. “Having a backup battery situation, whether it be a portable or something that runs your small refrigerator, have ice on hand, always have your devices charged, and take stock of what really needs electricity.”MORE NEWS: Fourth of July Celebrations Will Cost You More This Year, But How Much?
If a power shutoff were necessary, PG&E says people will get 48-hours notice before the lights go out.