Gusts of 35 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour (56-72 kph) were forecast to sweep a vast swath of the state, from the San Francisco Bay Area to the agricultural Central Valley and especially in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where a November wildfire blamed on PG&E transmission lines killed 85 people and virtually incinerated the town of Paradise.
In May, fire officials determined that PG&E equipment caused Camp Fire in November 2018, the most destructive forest fire in the state's history that killed 85 people, burned almost 14,000 homes and razed more than 150,000 acres of land.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said PG&E had no choice given that it would have faced liability for fire damage but he said customers are right to feel outraged.
"We are here to assure Oaklanders that the city of Oakland is fully prepared for the potential planned outage", Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said at a Tuesday press conference. Utility crews won't be able to inspect any power lines that might be damaged and restore electricity until after the severe weather has passed.
The Caldecott Tunnel would be closed on State Route 24 and the Lantos Tunnel could close along State Route 1 in Pacifica, CNN affiliate KGO reported.
The agency says the generators should be working by midday Wednesday when Pacific Gas and Electric is expected to shut off power in the Bay Area.
The region's main commuter rail system - Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART - said it expected no impact on its electrified trains or its stations, in part because it had already deployed backup generators to stations that needed them. The University of California, Berkeley, Sonoma State University and Mills College canceled classes Wednesday. According to the Humboldt County Office of Education, other announced closures as of 7:15 a.m. included Southern Humboldt Unified School District, Big Lagoon School District, Trinity Valley Elementary, Fuente Nueva Charter School, Pacific View Charter School, Cuddeback School District, Coastal Grove Charter School, Fortuna Elementary School District, Rio Dell School District, Trinidad School District, Scotia School District, Loleta School District, McKinleyville Unified School District and HCOE student programs, which include all Glen Paul programs at Fortuna and Peninsula.
Conditions before the fires were about the same then as they are now in the region.
He said peak winds are to start Wednesday morning and continue until Thursday.
And this, he said, is by all metrics "forecast to be the strongest offshore wind event since October 2017".
PSPS events are called when low humidity, strong winds and critically dry vegetation cause a high threat of fire. The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch. "Have your go pack ready". These conditions elevate the potential risk of wildfire, especially in areas with a lot of dry brush.
Also under consideration are areas to the west in Ventura County and to the north in Kern, Tulare, Inyo and Mono counties.
A Pacific Gas & Electric worker walks in front of a truck in San Francisco, Calif., on August 15, 2019.
State regulators approved this plan, along with rules meant to prepare and warn the public, in May.
The Camp Fire rages through Paradise last November. The utility was responsible for last year's deadly Camp Fire after its power lines sparked the state's worst wildfire which killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of homes in Butte County. Pacific Gasoline & Electrical and a gaggle of insurers say they've reached an $11 billion settlement to cowl numerous claims from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California.