UPDATE 10/09/19 1:40pm: PG&E has announced that shutoffs in Santa Cruz County will begin later this afternoon and into the evening. According to Santa Cruz County, power outages for parts of the county are expected to begin after 8 p.m.
UPDATED 10/08: Parts of Santa Cruz County will go dark early tomorrow morning. Pacific Gas & Electric decided to initiate a “Public Safety Power Shutoff” to nearly 800,000 customers across Northern and Central California due to increased fire danger.
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the Santa Cruz mountains from Wednesday evening until midday Thursday. The warning means warm temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity are expected to combine and create an increased risk of fire danger.
Brian Garcia with the National Weather Service says people need to be aware of their behavior.
“Whether it's smoking, tossing cigarettes out the window, that's a big no no. Dragging chains when you're towing something, that can easily spark fires. People still need to be aware and have a have a go-kit ready to go at anytime in case evacuation orders are put into place,” Garcia said.
In light of these heightened fire danger conditions, Cal Fire is increasing staff and PG&E is shutting off the power in stages throughout Northern and Central California, including Santa Cruz County. Local areas that are expected to lose power include Aptos, Boulder Creek, Watsonville, Scotts Valley, Soquel, Ben Lomond, Felton, Santa Cruz, Los Gatos, Mount Hermon, Brookdale, Davenport, Capitola, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Corralitos, Saratoga and Bonny Doon.
PG&E created these “Public Safety Power Shutoffs” to try and eliminate the risk of a spark from their equipment. In recent years, the company’s equipment has sparked wildfires, including the devastating Camp Fire in Butte County, which destroyed the Town of Paradise and left 86 people dead.
This outage could last days. PG&E will open a community resource center tomorrow morning at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, 2701 Cabrillo College Dr, Aptos 95003. It will offer devices for charging phones and other equipment.
PG&E recommends you plan for medical needs, locate backup charging devices, know how to open garage doors and keep emergency food and water on hand.
10/07: The National Weather Service has issued what they're calling a 'Fire Weather Watch' from late Tuesday through Thursday for the Bay Area and the Santa Cruz mountains.
Strong and gusty offshore winds are expected with the strongest winds from Wednesday night through early Thursday. A very low daytime minimum humidity is also in the forecast.
Due to these weather conditions and the potentially strong and dry winds, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has annouced that they could potentially implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff midweek. This shutoff could affect Santa Cruz County, Santa Clara County and others.
The company accounced early this year that if certain weather conditions do occur, they will cut power to areas affected in order to prevent wildfires.
The outages could last more than 48 hours.
PG&E recommends you charge your devices, restock your emergency kit with flashlights, make sure your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are ready and make sure you have enough food and water on hand to last through the entire shut off.