As part of its efforts to prepare customers and communities for the growing threat of wildfire, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has launched a new weather webpage at www.pge.com/weather, providing detailed, localized forecasts.
The page offers a seven-day, look-ahead regional forecast updated daily by a PG&E meteorologist or fire scientist, indicating the potential need to call a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). PG&E monitors conditions across its system and evaluates whether to proactively turn off electric power lines, if gusty winds and dry conditions, combined with a heightened fire risk, threaten a portion of the electric system.
PG&E 7-Day PSPS Potential Forecast will provide a sense of what’s going on and what’s ahead, encompassing nine geographic regions of PG&E’s service area and four levels of PSPS potential:
• Not Expected – Conditions that generally warrant a PSPS event are not expected at this time.
• Elevated – An upcoming event, typically a period of adverse weather combined with dry fuels, is being monitored for an increased potential of a PSPS event.
• PSPS Watch – PG&E’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is now activated based upon a reasonable chance of executing a PSPS to reduce public safety risk in a given geographic zone due to a combination of adverse weather and dry fuel conditions. A PSPS watch is typically only issued within 72 hours before the anticipated start of an event.
• PSPS Warning – Customers in areas being considered for a PSPS have been or are being notified. This level indicates execution of a PSPS is probable, given the latest forecast of weather and fuels and/or observed conditions. PSPS is typically executed in smaller and more targeted areas than the PG&E Geographic Zones. This level does not guarantee a PSPS execution, as conditions and forecasts might change.
With PG&E’s weather map, residents are able to check humidity, precipitation, temperatures, wind speeds and wind gusts across 70,000 square miles of northern and central California. The map also shows whether the National Weather Service has called a Red Flag Warning and where. It also offers access to the thousands of weather stations and dozens of high-definition cameras in use by PG&E, as well as a daily sunrise and sunset timetable.
No single factor drives a PSPS, as each situation is unique. PG&E carefully reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be turned off for safety. These factors generally include, but are not limited to:
• A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
• Fire Potential Outlooks from the Interagency Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACCs)
• Low humidity levels, generally 20% and below
• Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions, such as temperature, terrain and local climate
• Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content)
• On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and observations from PG&E field crews
For information about fire conditions in California, go to CAL FIRE’s website, www.fire.ca.gov. For more information about the Community Wildfire Safety Program, including links to update contact information, resources for PSPS and a schedule of upcoming regional open houses and webinars, visit PG&E’s website at www.pge.com/wildfiresafety.