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Thousands without power in Sacramento. Hurricane-strength winds hit Northern California

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»» Latest updates on the Kincade Fire and others around the state can be found here.

The ferocious winds arrived as predicted in Northern California, fanning the flames of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and leaving well more than 2 million residents without electricity in PG&E’s territory and causing blackouts in Sacramento, too.

Significant Blackouts At SMUD

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District reported numerous blackouts Sunday affecting thousands of homes and businesses, including more than 12,000 customers in north Natomas.

However, most of the outages were fixed by late Sunday. As of mid-day Monday, just 65 customers were without power.

Winds may have peaked

Jan Null, a private weather forecaster, said it appeared winds in the area around the Kincade Fire were subsiding as the morning wore on. “I think it’s already peaked in the North Bay,” he said.

In the Alexander Valley at the northern end of Sonoma, for instance, winds were as low as 22 mph.

He said the fiercest winds were shifting to the south and east, reaching the East Bay and parts of the Sacramento Valley, although they were abating somewhat there as well.

Still, the situation remained perilous, and the region was in for a long and difficult day.

“We still have 53 mph gusts at Travis (Air Force Base),” he said.

103-mph gust near Tahoe

The National Weather Service said a gust of 103 mph was reported at Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe, at an elevation of 8,482 feet. Jarbo Gap in Butte County, east of last November’s Camp Fire burn zone, reported a 70 mph gust. A gust of 51 mph was reported at Sacramento International Airport.

The SMUD blackouts were unplanned. They were in addition to the deliberate “public safety power shutoff” imposed late Saturday by PG&E Corp., which blacked out 940,000 homes and businesses in the largest planned shutoff in the company’s history. The blackout has affected more than 2 million people and is expected to last up to 48 hours.

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When will the wind stop?

The National Weather Service kept its red flag warning in effect, saying Northern Californians would experience wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph throughout the day.

The winds were expected to ease late Sunday or early Monday but could accelerate Tuesday and Wednesday, although it probably won’t be as bad as today, said the weather service’s Brendon Rubin-Oster.

Oster said wind gusts of 66 mph were reported shortly after midnight around Redding, which is about 10 mph “short of hurricane-force wind.”

Are airports impacted in Sacramento, San Francisco?

Jan Null, a private forecaster in the Bay Area, said a gust of 93 mph was reported overnight near Healdsburg, in the vicinity of the Kincade Fire.

Despite the winds, airlines reported no delays at Sacramento and San Francisco international airports.

Safety experts advised residents to make sure they had batteries for flashlights and had secured patio furniture.

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Dale Kasler covers climate change, the environment, economics and the convoluted world of California water. He also covers major enterprise stories for McClatchy’s Western newspapers. He joined The Bee in 1996 from the Des Moines Register and graduated from Northwestern University.
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