CENTRAL CALIFORNIA – The first rains of the fall are forecast to arrive in our area early this week, and PG&E is warning that there is an increased risk of power outages during the first rains following a long dry season.
“During the first rainstorm of a season, dust and other particles that have accumulated on our equipment can transform into mud and conduct electricity,” said PG&E in a statement released today.
“That can cause damage to equipment and lead to localized outages. We clean equipment in advance of rains where possible, but customers should be prepared for local outages when rain is forecast. The safety of our customers, employees, contractors and the communities we serve is PG&E’s top priority.”
PG&E says it has extra crews and resources on alert and ready to respond if outages do occur, and routinely practice emergency preparedness and storm response through company exercises and drills with local first responders.
“We are prepared for these potential outages and we want you to be prepared as well,” said PG&E spokesperson Denny Boyles. “Keep your cell phone charged. Have flashlights, radios and fresh batteries ready and know where to go for updates on storm conditions and power outages.”
PG&E uses weather forecast data for many purposes, mainly for predicting storm damage – which they say has traditionally been a higher risk in their service territory than wildfire – and also for assessing fire danger.
Since 2014, PG&E says they have used their POMMS (PG&E Operational Mesoscale Modeling System) system to forecast weather in the future for their entire service territory, forecasting various conditions including wind, temperature, precipitation, frozen precipitation, lightning and solar irradiance.
PG&E’s meteorology team has developed a Storm Outage Prediction Model (SOPP) that incorporates real-time weather forecasts, historic data and system knowledge “to accurately show where and when storm impacts will be most severe. This model enables us to pre-stage crews and equipment as storms approach to enable rapid response to outages.”
PG&E is also asking its customers to update their contact information at pge.com/mywildfirealerts “so we can keep them informed for storm and for wildfire risks.”