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 Shutoff 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 are expected to last until noon on Tuesday for most customers.
The majority of the local outages are affecting residents in the unincorporated parts of the county, where more than 3,400 residences are without power. According to PG&E’s outage maps, 43 customers in Half Moon Bay and 11 customers in La Honda are affected as well. There is no breakdown for unincorporated areas of the Midcoast.
Three community resource centers are open at Half Moon Bay Library, La Honda Fire Brigade and Pescadero High School to support residents without power. The centers have charging stations and other supplies. Masks, social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions are 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 Mt. 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 is predicting the winds would start to die down by the afternoon at lower elevations with dry conditions continuing all week.
The hazardous conditions across the state have already sparked new fires, most notably the Silverado Fire in Orange County where tens of thousands of residents are evacuating as it spreads rapidly and uncontained. CalFire also tweeted Monday that some small flare-ups within the CZU Lightning Complex have been reported in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Winds are expected to pick up again Monday night into Tuesday. For the latest on local and state outages, residents can visit https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/updates/ .