After warning residents for days that another public safety power shut-off would affect San Mateo County’s coast last week, PG&E decided to cancel the outage in the county citing improved weather conditions. Data from the National Weather Service, however, indicates there were wind gusts of up to 40 mph and sustained winds from 25 to 28 mph with 8 to 13 percent humidity on the morning of Oct. 30, when PG&E and local officials warned a shutdown was imminent.
Those conditions were worse on the coast than in previous shut-offs PG&E implemented for the Coastside in October, according to data from the National Weather Service and the National Centers for Environmental Information.
To compare, a little after 6 p.m. on Oct. 26, only hours before the power was turned off, sustained winds on the coast were calm at 5 mph, and relative humidity was at 82 percent. During the Oct. 9 shut-off, the highest wind gusts were 28 mph with sustained wind speeds that reached 18 to 20 mph.
A press release from PG&E released at 10 a.m. the morning of Oct. 30 reads, “For the Oct. 29 PSPS, the number of impacted counties was decreased from original estimates, as weather conditions changed and as PG&E was able to sectionalize parts of its grid to allow for greater precision in the shut-offs.” San Mateo County was removed along with other counties.
PG&E officials did not respond for comment to this article. They have said previously that local conditions are only one consideration for the shut-offs. They also take into account the entire grid and noted that areas of the coast might be connected to other areas that faced a greater or lesser risk of wildfire.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service’s red flag warning remained in effect for the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Peninsula for much of last week, warning locals of extreme fire behavior, gusty winds and low relative humidity. A frost advisory was issued for a few hours on Thursday for other portions of the Bay Area.
Meteorologist David King with the National Weather Service noted as winds calmed and the red flag warning was set to expire that the risk of wildfire remains high in the region.
“We haven’t had rain in the longest time and fuels are still dry,” he said last week.
PG&E announced that those affected by the Oct. 9 shut-off would receive a one-time rebate amid pressure from Gov. Gavin Newsom. Specific details about the rebates have yet to be released.
“We have carefully considered the governor’s request to provide reimbursement for our customers impacted by the Oct. 9 PSPS and we have agreed to move forward with a one-time bill credit for customers impacted by that event,” PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said in a prepared statement.