Power restored in places
The lights came back on in the Half Moon Bay Review offices and across downtown at about 4:45 p.m. on Thursday — nearly 17 hours after they went out. County officials warned the power could remain out in places through the evening. Libby Leyden / Review

Update 4:58 p.m. Power is returning to many parts of the coast. The lights came on at Half Moon Bay City Hall at 4:50 p.m. on Thursday, and there were similar reports from Moss Beach through Half Moon Bay.

Your results may vary, however. Almost simultaneously, the SMC Alert system sent a text to say only that the "visual inspection" portion of the re-energization protocol was "underway." The alert warned Coastsiders that they could be without power through the evening.

Update 4:45 p.m. There are reports from Moss Beach to Half Moon Bay of the power being back on. It's still out in downtown Half Moon Bay. We're checking.

Update 4:40 p.m. CHP reports there are live wires down at Highway 1 and Coronado Street in El Granada and that they have sparked a small grass fire.

There are five Coastside Fire units on scene and another en route.

We're working to understand how the wires could be live and exactly what happened.

Update 3:45 p.m. The manager of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services says the area has received a "partial all clear." Kevin Rose says he expects to know more from PG&E by 7 p.m. tonight.

Rose said he was speaking with his contact at the power company this afternoon when a small fire broke out on San Bruno Mountain and the company representative had to leave to attend that. That fire has since been mostly contained.

Rose said that once the inspection is complete — whenever that may be — power will be restored via a regional switching center. He said that it could take an hour or two from that time before everyone has power again.


Inside the emergency center
The doors to the Half Moon Bay Emergency Operations Center were closed and locked on Thursday. City Public Works Director John Doughty is inside, and he did talk to our Libby Leyden. Report coming soon. Libby Leyden / Review

Update 2:15 p.m. The city of Half Moon Bay activated its Emergency Operation Center on Tuesday evening as a result of the planned PG&E shutdown. However, Public Works Director John Doughty said the activation is on a small-scale and not what he expects in the event of a catastrophic event like a big earthquake.

“The purpose and reason we activated the EOC is because it allows us to inform the county that we have opened,” Doughty said. “It requires the county and neighboring partners to provide mutual aid if we need additional equipment to work through and deal with the shut off.” 

Other jurisdictions, including San Mateo County, also opened their emergency operation centers.

“Simply it provided us a way to automatically get assistance if we needed something, thankfully we have not had the need,” Doughty said.

Doughty said that the EOC activation was helpful when connecting Cabrillo Unified School District to the county to find a way to preserve the school’s food for its lunch program.

“I am not sure if that resulted in an action, but we did connect them with the county,” Doughty said.

Doughty said, as of 2 p.m., those in the local EOC hadn't heard when power might be restored.


Update 1:55 p.m. To the surprise of no one, the people of Pescadero are making do under difficult conditions caused by the PG&E planned power shutdown.

Uriel Galvan, an owner of Pescadero Alliance gas station and taqueria, said the lines were long on the days leading up to the outage. He called all over the Bay Area — even as far as Sacramento — to ask if anyone was selling a generator that could power his store, but he could not find one. So now business is slow. He can’t sell food from the taqueria and is worried about the meat in the freezer if the power doesn’t turn on soon. 
“I’m crossing my fingers it turns on tonight,” he said.
The nearby Arcangeli Grocery Co. is open, though store manager Humberto Perez says it is limited in what it can sell in the deli. Duarte's has generators and is open. Many people in the town came by the popular destination eatery for breakfast this morning.
Meanwhile, it's almost business as usual in Pescadero schools. The high school has a generator and others are making do with natural light. The after-school program for the elementary school will dismiss at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. today.
“It’s pretty much a normal day,” Pescadero Elementary School office manager Judy Cabuag said. “(The kids) think it’s kind of cool.”

Update 1:25 p.m. The National Weather Service has lifted a red flag fire warning for the Coastside. It ran out in the Santa Cruz mountains at noon today.

Such warnings indicate increased fire danger based upon temperature, humidity and prevailing winds. Much of the Bay Area, North Bay and Sierra Foothills remains under warning conditions, and the weather service says fire conditions are worsening in Southern California as well.

The red flag warning was cited, particularly high winds, as the reason PG&E decided to preemptively shut power to hundreds of thousands of Northern California residents this week. Meteorologists have said the weather event had the potential to be the worst since October 2017 when fire tore through portions of the North Bay.

More than 14,000 Coastside residents were among customers in seven counties that were cut from power on Wednesday night. There is no word yet on when power might be restored. Company officials have said it could take days to inspect all necessary equipment and bring back power to everyone affected.


PG&E equipment
Kyle Ludowitz / Review

Update 11:55 a.m. There is a large contingent of PG&E equipment and personnel staged at the Half Moon Bay Airport and Review photographer Kyle Ludowitz reports that some are beginning to roll out and head to the south.

We don't know specifically what that means yet, but the power company has said that crews must inspect lines before re-energizing the system. Again, we aren't sure that crews are beginning that process, but there is movement of equipment and personnel.

Going with the flow
Half Moon Bay High School teacher Marsenne Kendall dressed as Marie Curie, even staying in character, to teach kids about important events before all classrooms were fully wired. Kyle Ludowitz / Review

Update 11:20 a.m. Classes at Cabrillo Unified schools continued on Thursday, despite the obvious problems a lack of electricity bring.

Students at Half Moon Bay High School were giving presentations in a history class, checking out textbooks in the library if they couldn't access their online assignments, growing sea anemones in a science lab and having P.E. outside. 
"We were prepared yesterday," Principal John Nazar said. "We had power the entire day, which was great. People have been educating without power for thousands of years."
To prove it, one science teacher came dressed as Marie Curie, spoke with an accent and stayed in character. Her class was "discovering" electron probability. 
"I just thought I'd make it fun," teacher Marsenne Kendall said. 
It's an inconvenience, Nazar said, to not have access to electricity. But having windows in the classrooms helps. 
"We're well-positioned to keep teaching," he said. "The power went out last year, and we continued doing our business." 
They don't know yet how much the outage will affect attendance, but that's the biggest concern.

Update 10:20 a.m.: The power outage is playing havoc with the business community on the coast, of course.

The Half Moon Bay Golf Links reports that it's business as usual, sort of. They are having trouble with their phone system, which normally relies on electricity. But golfers are on the course.

The Chevron gas station on the Midcoast is closed after a busy couple of days while Coastsiders filled up tanks in advance of the shutdown. In fact, most commerce on the coast has come to a halt. Notable exceptions have been the Safeway, Hassett Hardware and the Half Moon Bay Bakery on Main Street.


Update 9 a.m.: While the commute from the Midcoast is often a challenge, residents are finding it particularly difficult today, the first day of the PG&E intentional power shutdown on the coast.

Traffic signals are blinking red in many instances. There appear to be no law enforcement officers directing traffic north of Half Moon Bay, despite assurances there would be more San Mateo County Sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers on the coast through the shutdown. Drivers say there is law enforcement at Frenchmans Creek Road.

The traffic signal at Main Street and Highway 92 was working this morning.

There are a few businesses open on the coast. Hassett Hardware, Safeway and Half Moon Bay Bakery are among them.


Update 7:40 a.m.: Predictably, the morning commute on the first morning of the blackout is a nightmare. Long lines of cars on Highway 1 as all the signalized intersections are treated as four-way stops. The light is blinking red at Capistrano.

One bright spot: we're seeing that Safeway is open.


The lights finally blinked off across much of the Coastside shortly before midnight on Wednesday after a long day of waiting for PG&E's planned power shutdown to affect Half Moon Bay and surrounding unincorporated areas.

The shutdown was announced earlier this week and is the power company's attempt to address weather conditions that increase the likelihood of wildfire. Last year, PG&E was blamed for sparking devastating wildfires to the north. They were started when PG&E equipment failed during similar dry and windy weather.

The power shutdown is now affecting hundreds of thousands of people across the region and is an unprecedented event. PG&E can't say with confidence when it might restore power across its grid. It has indicated that the work could take days and will likely begin around noon today as winds ease enough for company helicopters to begin inspections of equipment from the air. San Mateo County emergency managers say a black and silver helicopter with the tail number 350HD will likely be seen making low-flying passes over coastal equipment in the hours to come.

PG&E has set up a resource center at 845 Main St. in Half Moon Bay. It is in a white tent behind the new Pasta Moon restaurant. There, residents can get water, charge up their devices and receive information.

In La Honda, CERT teams have joined with the La Honda Fire Brigade to respond to resident needs. And the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District has set up an aid station with portable toilets at La Honda Elementary School.

The city of Half Moon Bay said it has placed portable stop signs at signalized intersections, which should be treated as four-way stops in light of the power outage.

Both local public school systems are expected to be open this morning.

We will continue to update this story throughout the day. For the latest news and information on the shutdown on the coast, follow @hmbreview on Twitter and the Half Moon Bay Review on Facebook.

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