Update, 8:10 p.m. Friday: In a press release, PG&E officials said power has restored to "essentially all" customers impacted by the shutoffs by early Friday evening.
Update, 9:30 a.m Friday: The National Weather Service extended its red flag warning for high fire danger through 6 p.m. Friday for the East Bay valleys and hills, North Bay valleys and mountains and the Santa Cruz mountains. The warnings were previously set to expire on Friday morning when gusty winds are expected to begin dying down. But humidity levels are now forecast to remain low throughout the day, with temperatures "well above normal," prolonging hot, dry conditions that increase fire risk, NWS Bay Area tweeted. Weekend temperatures are expected to cool slightly, but conditions will likely remain dry with no precipitation forecasted for the next week.
Update, 12:40 a.m. Friday: PG&E says that it has already begun the process of restoring power to customers in the Oakland Hills and South Bay who were blacked out Wednesday night as part of a wildfire-safety power shutoff.
In a 6 p.m. Thursday briefing, PG&E incident commander Mark Quinlan said the company had gotten a "weather all clear" for Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties and had begun the process of inspecting lines for wind-inflicted damage before re-energizing them.
The company later said that roughly 10,000 customers in those counties would have their lights back on by late Thursday night.
Quinlan also said the scope of the outages initiated Wednesday evening were not as expansive as had been earlier announced. PG&E had previously said about 53,000 customers in 24 counties would be blacked out as high winds and extremely dry conditions prompted the National Weather Service to post a red flag warning for most of the northern half of California.
But Quinlan said the total number of customers who lost power, as of late Thursday, had been reduced to about 41,000. His briefing listed 19 counties where blackouts had occurred, with targeted areas of Sierra, Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties spared from the outages.
However, the actual number of customers who experienced shutoffs is still unclear, and likely won't be confirmed until the utility submits its report to the California Public Utilities Commission at the end of the month.
"The numbers in the counties have shifted around a little bit because of changing weather conditions," Quinlan said. "We've been able to monitor those conditions all day and make real-time adjustments and bring people back earlier than originally anticipated."
The company estimated that 32,000 customers were without power as of 6 p.m. Wednesday. Those were scattered across the North Bay, the northern Sierra Nevada and in the northwestern counties of Humboldt and Trinity.
Winds in some of those northern locales increased sharply late Thursday into early Friday, with one PG&E remote weather station near Healdsburg recording gusts over 70 mph.
The winds are forecast to subside after dawn Friday, and PG&E says it aims to restore power in the North Bay and other affected areas by late Friday night.
Update, 10 a.m. Thursday: More than 50,000 utility customers across California were without power Thursday morning as a fall heat wave brings another round of extreme wildfire danger.
The National Weather Service issued heat advisories through Friday for temperatures in the 90s and even triple digits in many parts of the state. Red flag warnings for extreme fire danger were in place for much of the Bay Area, with expected hot, dry gusts of up to 55 mph that could spark new blazes.
PG&E began shutting off power Wednesday evening to customers in portions of 24 counties. The heat wave also prompted California’s electrical grid operator to issue a statewide “Flex Alert,” urging people to conserve energy from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday by turning down their air conditioners and not using major appliances.
Update, 5:05 p.m. Wednesday: PG&E has confirmed that it will begin conducting wildfire safety power shutoffs across the northern half of California within the next few hours.
The outages, as currently planned, will affect just under 53,000 customers scattered across 24 counties — including some 22,000 customers in seven Bay Area counties.
About 9,000 customers in Napa County and 5,000 in the Oakland Hills will be impacted by the shutoff.
Outages in the North Bay, which include pockets of Sonoma and Solano counties, could begin as early as 6 p.m. Blackouts in the East Bay Hills and South Bay and into Santa Cruz County are slated to begin as early as 8 p.m.
PG&E says it expects to begin restoring power during the day Friday, when high winds that prompted National Weather Service red flag warnings for critical fire weather are expected to ease. The company says it aims to have the lights back on for all customers by late Friday night.
Aside from the Bay Area, PG&E says it will shut off power in some Sierra Nevada foothill communities from north of Yosemite all the way up to Shasta County. A small area of Humboldt and Trinity counties are also scheduled to be blacked out Thursday.
Original post, 4 p.m. Tuesday: More than 50,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers across 21 counties — including more than 22,000 Bay Area customers — could lose power by Wednesday evening as part of an effort by the utility to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires ahead of expected hot, dry and windy conditions.
High fire-risk conditions are forecast to begin Wednesday evening, the utility said, with strong winds likely to subside Thursday morning in some locations and Friday morning in others.