Coastsiders woke Monday morning to gusty conditions, high fire risk and — for many— power outages.
With heavy winds in the forecast for early this week, PG&E began its Public Safety Power Shut-off at about 10 p.m. on Sunday, cutting power for more than 3,600 customers across San Mateo County. All told, more than 361,000 customers in 36 counties have been affected statewide.
The local outages lasted until midday on Tuesday for most customers, with some waiting for restored power into Tuesday night.
The majority of the local outages affected residents in the unincorporated parts of the county, where more than 3,400 residences went without power for almost two days. According to PG&E’s outage maps, 43 customers in Half Moon Bay and 11 customers in La Honda were affected as well. As of Tuesday, any outages reported on the Midcoast had been restored, according to the power company.
Three community resource centers opened at Half Moon Bay Library, La Honda Fire Brigade and Pescadero High School to support residents without power. The centers were equipped with charging stations and other supplies. Masks, social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions were required at the centers.
According to the National Weather Service, the wind event began offshore on Sunday and was forecast to bring low humidity and strong winds that could exacerbate wildfire risk. Across the Bay Area, red flag warnings and wind advisories went into effect Sunday afternoon and evening through Monday.
The forecast came true on Sunday night, when the weather service noted a dramatic drop in humidity from 94 percent to 15 percent over two hours in Half Moon Bay. There have been gusts up to 89 miles per hour at Mount St. Helena.
“The much-advertised, strong offshore wind event is well underway across the San Francisco Bay Area this morning with critically dry conditions spreading southward into the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Monday’s early-morning NWS report noted. It predicted the winds would start to die down at lower elevations with dry conditions continuing all week.
On Monday morning, the hazardous conditions across the state had already sparked new fires, most notably the Silverado Fire in Orange County where tens of thousands of residents began evacuating as it spread rapidly and uncontained. Cal Fire also tweeted Monday that some small flare-ups within the CZU Lightning Complex were reported in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Winds picked up again Monday night into Tuesday, but conditions on the coast steadied as the red flag warning expired, although humidity stayed very low along the coast.
For the latest on local and state outages, residents can visit https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/updates/.