Home U.S. News California Power Outages Affect More Than 850,000 Customers

California Power Outages Affect More Than 850,000 Customers

California Power Outages Affect More Than 850,000 Customers

Severe winds of nearly 100 miles per hour lashed parts of California on Sunday, toppling trees and power lines and leaving more than 850,000 homes and businesses across the state without power. Utility providers were uncertain when the lights would go back on.

Pacific Gas & Electric, which services customers in Northern California, the Central Valley and the coast down to Santa Barbara, said that their outages alone were affecting more than a million people on Sunday evening, as strong winds and fallen trees made it impossible for crews to make a full assessment.

“Our message to customers mainly is we’re working to assess the damage,” said Denny Boyles, a PG&E spokesman.

Before the storm, the utility company had warned customers to move patio furniture inside to prevent it from flying into power lines, he said, recalling a powerful storm a few years ago in which wind gusts sent a customer’s backyard trampoline flying.

Santa Clara County was the hardest-hit part of the state when it came to electricity outages. Nearly 140,000 homes and businesses had gone dark by Sunday evening as a result of the strong winds and heavy rain, said Scott Kleebauer, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. Flooding in the county even affected PG&E’s underground equipment.

Most of California was under either a wind advisory or high wind warning, Mr. Kleebauer added, noting that the rain could also cause mudslides with the potential to knock out power lines.

Several other regions were hit by power outages, including Sacramento, where more than 170,000 customers were without power — still far fewer than the 600,000 whose electricity was knocked out during last year’s storms, said Gamaliel Ortiz, a spokesman for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

“Last year was the measuring stick for us and we know what to prepare for,” he said, noting that the utility service had since increased the number of repair crews, damage assessors and office support staff members. But as the storm continued to clobber the state, worse impacts were certainly possible, Mr. Ortiz said.

“The possibility of the most damage is kind of right now,” he added. “We don’t know which way it’s going to go.”

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