Tens of thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric customers in Northern California could lose their power as early as Wednesday night, one week after planned outages rippled through the region.
The nation's largest utility, PG&E, warned it may begin power shutoffs by Wednesday evening to as many as 50,000 customers in 19 counties and two tribal communities due to weather conditions during the peak of wildfire season.
"Hot and dry conditions combined with expected high wind gusts pose an increased risk for damage to the electric system that has the potential to ignite fires in areas with dry vegetation," the utility said in a news release.
The utility said Monday it sent notifications to roughly 50,000 customers across the region about a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).
The targeted areas for the shutoff include portions of Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Napa, Plumas, Santa Clara, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and Yuba counties.
According to the utility, high fire-risk conditions will arrive Wednesday evening and continue through Friday morning.
Areas that will see the greatest impacts include the northern Sacramento Valley and adjacent elevated terrain, the northern Sierra Nevada north of Interstate 80, the North Bay mountains, and Mount Diablo in the East Bay.
There is still uncertainty over the strength and timing of this next wind event, but PG&E said when high-risk weather subsides it will inspect the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged.
"PG&E will then safely restore power as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring most customers within 12 daylight hours, based on current weather conditions," the utility said.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said a fire weather watch is in effect from 10 p.m. PDT on Wednesday through 7 a.m. on Friday for the region, where gusts up to 40 mph are possible.
Dry conditions, with lower humidity, will create conditions for rapid fire spread.
The Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is an effort by the utility to prevent fires from being started by damaged power lines fouled or knocked down in high winds. The PSPS programs used by PG&E and other utilities have been developed in response to disasters.
About 41,000 customers had their power turned off last Wednesday amid a red flag warning in Northern California. The outages lasted until Friday night when the electricity was turned back on to everyone, according to FOX40.