Facing bone-crushing dryness and the strongest winds of the wildfire season, California's largest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) which filed for historic bankruptcy due to its role in previous infernos sweeping across the state has "de-energized certain electrical lines" in Northern California, which may result in what could be the largest mass blackout of the year.
PG&E released a statement Sunday morning, informing customers that 361,000 homes and or businesses were part of the blackout, affecting 36 counties, mainly in Northern California, starting at 10:00 PST. Listed below are the counties affected by the planned blackouts:
PG&E's initial projection of homes and businesses that would lose power on Sunday is down 105k from Friday's 466k estimate. The power company's primary reason to de-energize some of its power lines is that high winds are expected on Sunday, increasing the risk for trees and or limbs to fly into powerlines and potentially ignite fires in regions of low humidity and dry vegetation.
"This event looks particularly dangerous due to a combination of factors that we continue to track," said Scott Strenfel, PG&E's head of meteorology and fire science, who was quoted by Bloomberg. Strong winds and low humidity were expected throughout the day on Sunday, he said.
The next round of blackouts, expected imminently, will be a devastating blow for the state, already battered by extreme weather this fire season, scorching more than 4 million acres so far. PG&E has preemptively cut power four times this season.
High wind gusts are expected for some regions in Northern California through Monday, tweeted The National Weather Service (NWS) Sacramento.
NWS Sacramento outlines a "dangerous" fire risk for Northern California through Sunday.
"Dangerous Critical to Extremely Critical fire weather conditions are expected across portions of northern California today, as strong offshore winds occur over critically dry fuels. Strongest winds are expected tonight into early Monday morning."
A red flag warning was posted for much of Northern California today. What this means is that fire weather conditions are ripe for wildfires.
More on the red flag warning.
New wildfires are already starting to emerge.
Here are the current wildfires burning in California:
As rolling blackouts begin, Californians are frantically searching on the internet to see if their homes will be in the affected areas.
California's fire season generally lasts through October but given La Nina conditions, it could extend into November.