As part of its efforts to prepare customers and communities for the growing threat of wildfires, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is providing detailed, localized weather forecasts for customers from its robust weather webpage on pge.com.
The weather webpage offers a seven-day forecast updated daily by a PG&E meteorologist or fire scientist that indicates the potential need to call a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). PG&E monitors conditions across the system and evaluates whether to turn off power during severe weather to help prevent wildfires.
The PG&E 7-Day PSPS Potential provides an instantaneous sense of what’s going on and what’s ahead. The forecast encompasses all counties in PG&E’s service area and four levels of PSPS potential:
- Not Expected – Conditions that generally warrant a PSPS event are not planned at this time.
- Elevated – An upcoming event (a period of gusty winds, dry conditions, heightened risk) is being monitored for an increased potential of a PSPS event.
- PSPS Watch – The company Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated for a reasonable chance of executing a PSPS for public safety in a given county 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 – The company Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated and 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 across an entire county. This level does not guarantee execution of a PSPS as conditions and forecasts may change.
Using the webpage, PG&E customers will also be able to check humidity, precipitation, temperatures, wind speeds and wind gusts across 70,000 square miles of Northern and Central California. Customers will also be able to check for local conditions from the closest weather station in their community.
Additionally, the webpage shows whether the National Weather Service has called a Red Flag Warning. It offers access to the thousands of weather stations and dozens of high-definition cameras in use by PG&E. Also included is a daily sunrise and sunset timetable.
PG&E initiates a PSPS when the weather forecast is for such severe weather that people’s safety, lives, homes and businesses may be in danger of wildfires. As each weather situation is unique, PG&E carefully reviews a combination of factors when deciding if power must be turned off. These factors include:
- Low humidity levels, generally 30% and below.
- A forecast of high winds, particularly sustained winds above 19 miles per hour and wind gusts above 30-40 miles per hour.
- Condition of dry material on the ground and low moisture content of vegetation.
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
- Real-time ground observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and from PG&E crews working across the service territory.
“We are continuing to build our network of weather stations and cameras to provide the clearest picture about upcoming severe weather events,” said PG&E Meteorologist Scott Strenfel. “The safety of our customers and communities is our most important responsibility. As we continue to work year-round and nonstop to improve our PSPS Program, we’re expanding our meteorological forecasting capabilities to help us prevent and respond to the risk of wildfires.”
This year, PG&E’s decision-making process is also evolving to account for the presence of trees tall enough to strike power lines when determining if a PSPS is necessary.
This year, PG&E created a new tool to keep non-account holders informed about PSPS outages. The tool, known as Address Alerts, can notify anyone about a PSPS at any address.
Address Alerts might be right for you if:
- You want to know about a PSPS at your home, work, school or other important location
- You are a tenant and do not have a PG&E account
- You need to stay informed about a PSPS affecting a friend or loved one
- Multiple members of your household want to be notified
Customers and non-account holders interested in receiving updates on PSPS events for an address where they do not receive a bill can submit one or more addresses.
If you are a customer, you will automatically receive PSPS notifications for the home or business associated with your PG&E account. To update your contact info, visit pge.com/mywildfirealerts or call 1-866-743-6589.
To sign up for Address Alerts, visit pge.com/addressalerts.
For information about fire conditions in California, go to CAL FIRE’s website, fire.ca.gov. For more information about the Community Wildfire Safety Program, including links to update contact information, resources for PSPS outages and a schedule of upcoming regional open houses and webinars, visit PG&E’s website at pge.com/wildfiresafety.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.