Wind Storm Expected, Power Outages Possible PG&E Warns

High winds could cause a lot of problems this week.

PG&E has started to prepare for strong winds expected to hit the Bay Area over the next two days that can cause fallen trees, downed power lines and road closured.

The high-wind warning for the Bay Area will be in effect from 7 a.m. on Wednesday until 6 p.m. Thursday, as a dry weather system moves through the region, according to weather service forecaster Duane Dykema.

"It's not really what most people would consider a 'storm,'" Dykema said this morning. "It's going to be really blustery almost everywhere."

The forecast calls for blustery conditions, which means that at higher elevations anticipate gusts of 60 to 70 mph and gusts of 40 to 45 mph in lower-lying areas.

If the wind storm produces the 60 mph gusts predicted by weather forecasts expect some power outages, informed PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian Tuesday.

Sarkissian said PG&E spends more than $180 million annually to inspect more than 130,000 miles of power lines in its service area from Eureka to Bakersfield to make sure they are safe.

Although the utility focuses in particular on trimming unhealthy tree limbs that overhang power lines, it also monitors healthy limbs that pose a threat, she said.

Of the power outages in PG&E's service area, 13 percent are caused by tree limbs that fall onto power lines. Of those, 90 percent are caused by healthy tree branches, she said.

Falling trees are also dangerous. Let fire crews come out to deal with blocked roads or branches hanging low due to wind gusts.

“With trees a lot of people assume you can just drive underneath them but with high winds you never know what may happen next," CalFire engineer John Peery said. “It’s pretty common sense."

Peery added that people should always assume the power lines are live and therefore dangerous. The smart thing to do is call 911 and wait for an expert to check it out. If a power line falls on your car, stay inside and call 911. Wait for help, the firefighter advised.

Monitor power outages on this PG&E website, assuming you have web access during the blackout. Customers reporting power outages can call PG&E at 800-743-5002.

Check for road closures on the California Highway Patrol website (select "Golden Gate" in the drop-down menu under "Communication Centers"). The CHP site is updated in real time, so it will list roads temporarily blocked by trees or power lines.

And let your neighbors know about problem areas by commenting on the story below.

Send photos of downed power lines or trees, or share videos of the storm by adding them to this story with the button below or send them via email to Campbell Patch Editor Mayra Flores De Marcotte at mayra.marcotte@patch.com.

Additional reporting by Bay City News


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