Update: Most of city may not lose power; red flag warning still means fire danger

The latest PSPS map from PG&E showing areas in and near Berkeley that could lose power Wednesday. Source: PG&E

Update, 6:45 p.m. The power outage planned for Wednesday may have minimal impacts in town, Berkeley staff says, as “almost all” of the affected addresses provided by PG&E to the city appear, after a manual check, to be outside city limits. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said many of the locations with Berkeley addresses actually appear to be in Oakland, which is the case for some properties on the border. The city has asked PG&E to confirm what staff research has found and is waiting for a response. Chakko said PG&E’s online lookup tool continues to be the best indicator of whether an address will be affected.

Chakko said areas in the Berkeley Hills are still under a red flag warning — due to weather conditions that could result in increased fire danger — and that residents there “still need to be careful.” Read more from the city in a recent news alert.

UC Berkeley may still be affected by the outage. Cal sent an alert about the shutoff to the campus community Monday afternoon: “PG&E is monitoring the weather in the Bay Area for a possible shutoff in selected areas on Wednesday and Thursday. While this situation is evolving and there is considerable uncertainty, we believe it is in the campus’s best interest to be prepared for the possibility of an outage.” The university says it will post updates on its campus news page.

Berkeleyside has received no reports from readers indicating that they could be affected.


Update, 4 p.m. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning, identifying the East Bay Hills — including the Berkeley Hills — “as an area of particular concern.” The warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Wednesday through 7 p.m. Thursday.

Update, 2:40 p.m. PGE says 12,200 customers in Alameda County may be affected in the upcoming outage, including 330 who are part of the Medical Baseline program.

Original story: Officials in Berkeley are preparing for a new public safety power shutoff event set to begin in the city early Wednesday morning.

A “strong offshore wind event expected to begin early Wednesday morning” and continue through Thursday morning has prompted the latest planned blackout, which is necessary “to reduce the risk of wildfire in these conditions,” PG&E said.

On Sunday, PG&E announced that it may have to cut power to 250,000 customers in parts of 19 counties in the East Bay, North Bay, Sierra Foothills and elsewhere around the state. Berkeley officials say they are “still trying to confirm info” with PG&E about how many of those customers could be in Berkeley.

PG&E has released a new “impact map” — with approximate information about areas that could be affected by the upcoming outage — as well as an emergency address lookup tool, which PG&E has previously said is the best way to find out if an address is on the planned blackout list.

The Berkeley Unified School District said it is also monitoring the situation because Alameda County is “under a PSPS watch.”

The city of Berkeley tweeted just after 11:10 a.m. Monday that parts of the city “will likely experience” a planned outage this week. No other details have been available.

PG&E said it would call, text and email customers on Monday morning if they could be affected by the outage.

PG&E meteorologists are forecasting “a wide area of high winds, including sustained winds of up to 25 mph, gusts in the 30-50 mph range and peak gusts above 55 mph.” Fire “weather watches” have been issued in parts of the state and vegetation is “extremely dry.”

Average precipitation in the Northern Sierra is way down for this time of year: It’s usually 5 inches by November, but the region has received only .3 inches this year. Temperatures are also up, “5-15 degrees above average for this time of year,” says PG&E. High winds have also played a role.

“The recent series of extreme wind events have also contributed to dry conditions, as wind has a drying effect on vegetation,” PG&E reports.

The last planned shutoff in Berkeley took place in late October and was the biggest PG&E planned blackout to date, affecting 1.1 million customers throughout the state.

Berkeleyside will provide ongoing coverage as information becomes available.

Prepare for an outage: Tips from PG&E

  • Plan for medical needs, such as medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power
  • Identify backup charging methods for phones and make hard copies of emergency numbers
  • Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash
  • Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets
  • Learn more about wildfire risk and what to do before, during and after an emergency to keep your family safe at PG&E’s Safety Action Center

More resources