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Update: PG&E monitoring 30 counties for possible power shutoff in Northern California

Story update: PG&E has confirmed it will shut off power to close to 800,000 customers on Wednesday morning.

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11 a.m. update: PG&E said in a news release Monday morning that it is monitoring fire weather and is “considering proactively turning off power for safety, and implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff, across portions of approximately 30 northern, central, coastal and Bay Area counties.”

Those counties are: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Mariposa, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba.

Critical fire conditions are forecast to begin Wednesday morning and last through Thursday afternoon. The shutoff would begin early Wednesday morning, according to the PG&E website.

PG&E has not estimated how many total customers may be impacted.

Original story:

Dry conditions and gusty winds are expected to create elevated wildfire risk for much of Northern California later this week, including the Sacramento Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service has issued a fire weather watch for Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon for most of the Sacramento Valley and portions of the foothills, northern Sierra Nevada, Bay Area and North Bay.

The advisory warns that “very low” daytime humidity and local gusts as high as 45 mph are expected to create critical fire risk, but the weather watch had not been upgraded to a red flag warning as of Monday morning.

Gusty conditions include the capital, with NWS forecasts showing Sacramento could experience wind gusts up to 40 mph Wednesday into midday Thursday. Winds that strong could potentially knock down tree branches.

Will PG&E shut off power again?

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. turned off power to more than 10,000 customers in Butte County and a few dozen customers in Yuba and Plumas counties starting at about 10 p.m. Saturday as part of a public safety power shutoff event. Power was restored by about 3:45 p.m. Sunday, PG&E says.

In tweets late Sunday night, the utility said it is “actively monitoring weather models” across Northern California and throughout the Bay Area, which “indicate a potential strong and dry wind event midweek.” No other details regarding another potential shutoff were provided by PG&E as of Monday morning.

The weekend shutoff coincided with a NWS red flag warning covering most of California, including Napa County where a wildfire ignited Sunday afternoon and swelled to more than 500 acres before forward progress was stopped, according to Cal Fire.

The American Fire, along American Canyon Road just west of Interstate 80 and near the Solano County line, was 526 acres and 80 percent contained as of 7 a.m. Monday. One outbuilding was destroyed.

How warm will Sacramento be?

The NWS predicts Sacramento will reach a high of about 89 degrees Monday and 85 Tuesday, then cool down with the system that’s bringing gusty winds to the region.

Sacramento will likely see highs dip to the mid-70s Wednesday through Friday, with overnight lows dropping to the high 40s.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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