In its latest efforts to prepare customers and communities for the growing threat of wildfire,
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has launched a weather webpage that provides detailed, localized forecasts.
The page offers a seven-day, look-ahead regional forecast updated daily by a PG&E meteorologist or fire scientist that indicates the potential need to call a “Public Safety Power
Shutoff” (PSPS), according to a press release issued by the utility. PG&E monitors conditions across its system and evaluates whether to proactively turn off electric power lines for public safety. Conditions for a shutoff include:
• A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
• Fire Potential Outlooks from the Interagency Geographic Area Coordination Centers
• Low humidity levels, generally 20% and below
• Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 miles per hour, 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
Encompassing nine geographic regions of PG&E’s service area, the PG&E 7-Day PSPS Potential forecast will provide an “instantaneous sense of what’s going on and what’s ahead,” according to the release.
It includes the following four levels of PSPS potential, listed from lowest to highest chance of issuing a PSPS:
• Not Expected – Conditions that generally warrant a PSPS event are not expected at this
• 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.
The weather map displays humidity, precipitation, temperatures, wind speeds and wind gusts across 70,000 square miles of Northern and Central California. Viewers can check out those same conditions in their areas, based on the closest weather station.
Additionally, the map 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, and a daily sunrise and sunset timetable.
“By expanding our network of weather stations and cameras and offering this real-time information to our customers and agency partners, PG&E continues to grow Northern and Central California’s awareness of weather patterns and the need to initiate a Public Safety Power Shutoff when conditions merit it,” said PG&E Meteorologist Scott Strenfel, as quoted in the press release. “Customers and communities need to prepare, and this weather intelligence complements the letters, community open houses, webinars, workshops, social media posts and more that we’ve used to emphasize that message.”
For information about fire conditions in California, visit California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s website, fire.ca.gov. For more information about the Community Wildfire Safety Program, including links to update contact information, resources for Public Safety Power Shutoffs and a schedule of upcoming regional open houses and webinars, visit PG&E’s website at pge.com/wildfiresafety.