Saturday, October 26, 2019

As Blackout Looms, Arcata Nonprofit Preps Free Meal Services, Seeks Volunteers and Donations

Posted By on Sat, Oct 26, 2019 at 3:54 PM

With PG&E’s public safety blackout looming, Arcata House Partnership is again planning to provide a free meal services during the shutoff and is asking for volunteers and donations to aid the effort.

While estimates as to when the shutoff will start continue to fluctuate — PG&E has offered differing estimates throughout the day with the latest coming at 2:41 p.m. and advising the power will go down at 8 p.m. (local officials, meanwhile, warn residents should be prepared to lose power at any time — Arcata House is readying to kick into gear tomorrow.

The barren shelves at Eureka's WalMart on the eve of the last blackout. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The barren shelves at Eureka's WalMart on the eve of the last blackout.
See the press release copied below for details but the nonprofit is looking for volunteers, as well as donations of food and ice, and plans to provide free meals from noon to 6 p.m. at the Arcata Annex (501 Ninth St.) and the Arcata Community Center (312 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway). It will also deliver meals to various locations in town throughout the day.

For more information on how to receive food assistance or on how to help support the effort, see the release copied below.

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UPDATE: Blackout Could Hit Humboldt Hours Earlier Than Expected, Sheriff Warns to Prepare to Lose Power at Any Time

Posted By on Sat, Oct 26, 2019 at 11:20 AM

UPDATE:
In the company’s latest press release, PG&E is notifying the public that power will be shut off to more than 900,000 customers across 36 California counties in phases this afternoon. And the list of scheduled phases indicates power may be cut in Humboldt County earlier than the company is reporting.

PG&E has repeatedly told county officials and residents that the shutoff will begin locally at 5 p.m., and that’s represented in the phases in the company’s recent press release. However, the release also states that Shasta County will see its power cut at 2 p.m. Because the two lines transmitting electricity into Humboldt County originate in Shasta County — which PG&E and local officials have identified as the reason the entirety of Humboldt County will lose power in this blackout even though only certain portions are forecast to be at elevated fire risks — it seems Humboldt County may lose power at the same time Shasta County does, which would be three hours earlier than anticipated.

The historic Arcata Minor Theater bathed in moonlight beneath the stars during the PG&E power shutoff. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • The historic Arcata Minor Theater bathed in moonlight beneath the stars during the PG&E power shutoff.
The Journal has reached out to local and PG&E officials about this, but most have not responded. Sheriff William Honsal said in a text message to the Journal that he’s unsure, saying PG&E hasn’t been “organized” with the flow of information and that estimated shutoff times have repeatedly changed even though weather forecasts have not.

“Right now they are telling us 5 p.m. but if they are cutting the 299 line and the 36 line at 2 p.m. then we will lose power then,” he texted. “We are relying on a company that has been anything but consistent with its information. The red flag warning begins at 6 p.m. tonight in the north state. Humboldt County should be prepared to lose power any time this afternoon.”

We’ll update this post with additional information if and when we get it. But until then, it seems wise for Humboldt County to prepare to go dark a few hours earlier than expected.

See the latest press release from PG&E copied below our original post.


PREVIOUSLY:
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services announced this morning that a host of charging stations and community centers will open throughout the county after the start of the PG&E blackout that’s expected to begin at 5 p.m. today and stretch at least several days.

In a press release, the office is urging residents to be as prepared as possible, and not delay in charging their devices and stocking up on supplies. Additionally, the office warns the county is forecast to see some cold temperatures, so residents should plan accordingly.

The duration of the outage, the office warns, will be entirely managed by PG&E.

See the full press release, which includes the locations and schedules of charging and community centers, copied below:

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North Coast Night Lights: Be the Moon

Posted By on Sat, Oct 26, 2019 at 10:32 AM

In the days of film just prior to digital photography’s boom, photographers simply could not have made many of the nightscape images we see today. Film with enough light sensitivity to capture the stars and the rest of the Milky Way in all of the grandeur we are used to seeing in modern nightscape images did not exist; film that came anywhere close to sensitive enough was extremely grainy. Modern camera sensors are many times more sensitive to light than film was. Night photography wasn’t born with digital photography by any means but it changed with it.
My friend Ryan photographs the crescent moon setting at Moonstone Beach, seen here between his knees. A fishing - boat’s bright light shone intensely to the right. It was about the same brightness as the moon, and both appear very - light here due to a fairly long exposure and a high light sensitivity (ISO) setting. - PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
  • Photo by David Wilson
  • My friend Ryan photographs the crescent moon setting at Moonstone Beach, seen here between his knees. A fishingboat’s bright light shone intensely to the right. It was about the same brightness as the moon, and both appear verylight here due to a fairly long exposure and a high light sensitivity (ISO) setting.


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26 Year Old Killed in Alderpoint Road Crash

Posted By on Sat, Oct 26, 2019 at 7:11 AM

The California Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal single vehicle big rig crash on Alderpoint Road yesterday afternoon.

According to CHP, a 2019 Freight Liner was heading eastbound on Alderpoint Road, east of Wallin Road, when for reasons still under investigation it drifted off the south roadway edge and down a steep embankment. The 26-year-old driver was ejected from the cab and died at the scene.

It's unknown if drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash, which remains under investigation.

See the full press release from CHP:


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Friday, October 25, 2019

Finding Groceries When the Lights go Out

Posted By on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 9:05 PM

UPDATE: Costco will be up and running on generators, as will Walmart and Target.

Ferndale's Valley Grocery plans to stay open with the generator running.

Just like during the last blackout, Iłwai kiliwh market in Hoopa will be open and running on a generator.

CC Market in Rio Dell will not only be open during the outage but still has ice.

PREVIOUSLY: Once again, a planned PG&E power outage has local markets hooking up generators, hunting for diesel, shuttling their inventory into locked freezers and unloading perishables. Here's a working list of which ones will be open when the lights go out on Saturday. (Not sure what you need? Check your pantry against this list of recommended supplies.)

While the Eureka WinCo Foods shut down for the last blackout, Director of Corporate Communications Noah Fleisher said over the phone, “Winco will be open and able to serve the community during the blackout.” An extra generator will keep the stock cold and the lights and registers on.
FILE
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Where to Get Medical Supplies, Charge Devices During the Blackout

Posted By and on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 3:30 PM

With Humboldt County’s impending blackout looming, the county Office of Emergency Services is urging residents to stock up on enough medical supplies to last at least a few days and officials are scurrying to set up medical device charging stations throughout the county.

The entirety of Humboldt County is expected to lose power Saturday afternoon and officials say the fire warnings that prompted it could last until Monday afternoon, after which it could take several days for PG&E to inspect and re-energize the lines. During the blackout on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, medical providers said acquiring needed oxygen would have become a real problem for people on breathing aides had the outage extended beyond 28 hours. As it was, six people were hospitalized with breathing issues, including one who rapidly decompensated and had to be flown out of the area for further treatment.


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Alert: Humboldt Will Lose Power, Possibly for Four Days

Posted By on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 12:44 PM

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services has issued a countywide alert warning that all PG&E customers in the county will lose power early tomorrow afternoon due to the Public Safety Power Shutoff being enacted in the face of severe fire conditions in portions of Humboldt County and surrounding areas.

The office is urging residents to plan for an outage of up to four days, as the extreme weather conditions are expected to last through Monday and it may take some time after that to inspect lines and get electric servce restored to all customers.

When PG&E offers additional information about the outage or restoration estimates, the Sheriff’s Office will pass it on to the public. The alert reminds residents that 911 should only be used for life-threatening emergencies and urges residents to check on family and neighbors with medical needs.

See the full alert copied below and see our earlier post here for preparedness tips.

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Amid 'Frustration' with Lack of Information, Officials Warn Everyone Should Prepare for Blackout (with Preparedness Checklist)

Posted By on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 7:11 AM

Humboldt County officials are hoping to get some clarity this morning on what they should expect from the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff that the company has warned may impact the entirety of the county beginning Saturday evening.

As with the shutoffs that left the county dark for 28 hours on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, information flowing to officials and the public from the company has been inconsistent. PG&E told county officials yesterday afternoon that the outages would be localized in areas of high fire risk, estimating that about 2,188 customers would lose power. But around 3:30 p.m., just a few hours later,  the company released a map of anticipated outage areas that included the county’s major population centers and areas with no elevated fire risks.

The PG&E outage map released this afternoon.
  • The PG&E outage map released this afternoon.
“I think you sense the frustration,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal told the Journal last night. “They told us 2,188 and when they release the map three hours later, they show virtually the entire populated areas of the county being affected. When we try to get clarification, nobody can clarify for us what the true information is. So we are simply just pushing out what PG&E told us. We urge people to call PG&E to complain about the lack of information because we are doing that same thing.”

Journal emails to PG&E seeking clarification have gone unreturned. But the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services reported on its Facebook page last night that the issue is PG&E’s two transmission lines into Humboldt County — along state routes 299 and 36 — could be shut down, which would sever the entirety of county from the state grid. According to a report from the Redding Searchlight, officials in Shasta County — where the transmission lines coming into Humboldt County originate — were told yesterday to prepare for a shutdown that could begin around 10 p.m. Saturday and extend through Monday afternoon.

Locally, officials are warning that residents should be prepared for the shutoff to last several days, noting that even after the fire conditions subside, PG&E will have to do line inspections and potentially repairs before restoring power. OES was also advising that, as of last night, PG&E's outage maps and online address search tool did not seem to be accurate, at least based on the information the company had provided to the county.
The line for gas at Costco in Eureka stretched out of the parking lot and around the block on the eve of the last shutoff. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The line for gas at Costco in Eureka stretched out of the parking lot and around the block on the eve of the last shutoff.
Honsal also warned that there are elevated fire risks in portions of Humboldt County so residents should be mindful and act accordingly. He said that means no outside burning, making sure camp fires are fully put out, securing tow chains, being careful with cigarette butts and diligent with candles, among other things, adding that people should also immediately report any fires they see.

The Journal compiled the following list of preparation tips from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Red Cross, the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services and others. If you read through it and consider yourself prepared, we urge you to check on friends, family and neighbors to make sure they are, too, especially seniors, people with medical issues and other vulnerable populations.


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Thursday, October 24, 2019

UPDATE: OES Warns Entirety of Humboldt May Go Dark Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2019 at 6:05 PM

UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is now advising that the entirety of Humboldt County is considered “in scope” for the PG&E blackout slated to begin Saturday night and all residents should be prepared to be without electricity for days.

According to OES, PG&E’s prior advisories that only 2,188 customers would be affected were based on “directly impacted local distribution lines” but failed to account for the main transmission lines into the county, which run along state routes 299 and 36. Apparently, PG&E is now anticipating those lines will be shut down, which will cut electricity to the entirety of Humboldt County, as was the case with the Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 shutdown, which spanned 28 hours and saw the entire county go dark. But this time, OES is warning that weather conditions are expected to last at least 24 hours and, once the weather clears, PG&E’s line inspections may take more time, meaning the blackout may continue into next week.

OES is advising residents to plan accordingly and warning that PG&E’s current maps and address search tool on its website are not accurate. The company will likely begin notifying affected residents tonight or tomorrow, according to OES, which urges customers to make sure PG&E has their correct contact information.

For the time being, it seems wise for every Humboldt County resident to begin preparing to spend at least several days without power beginning Saturday evening.

We’ll update with more information as it becomes available.


PREVIOUSLY:
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services received maps from PG&E this afternoon indicating the Public Safety Power Shutoff scheduled for Saturday night may impact a much larger swath of the county than initially indicated.

According to the office, the new map “reflects virtually all populated areas of the county on the grid.”
The PG&E outage map released this afternoon.
  • The PG&E outage map released this afternoon.

“Without additional clarifying information available from PG&E at this time, the Sheriff’s Office advises Humboldt County residents to be prepared for the potential of an extended power outage impacting all PG&E customers,” the OES release states. “Further information received from PG&E confirming the scope of this outage, as well as timing and restoration estimates, will be provided as it becomes available.”

From OES:

PSPS Power shutoff update
Humboldt County was notified at approximately 1:00 PM today by PG&E that 2,188 customers in Humboldt were expected to have their power turned off on Saturday, October 26, as part of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event driven by gusty wind conditions forecast on Saturday evening. The attached map was provided at approximately 3:30 this afternoon, indicating a much larger area would be affected. Similar to the October 9 outage, this map reflects virtually all populated areas of the county on the grid.
Without additional clarifying information available from PG&E at this time, the Sheriff’s Office advises Humboldt County residents to be prepared for the potential of an extended power outage impacting all PG&E customers. Further information received from PG&E confirming the scope of this outage, as well as timing and restoration estimates, will be provided as it becomes available.

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UPDATE: Humboldt Expected to be Impacted by PG&E Blackout Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2019 at 1:03 PM

UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is warning that PG&E currently expects 2,188 Humboldt County customers to lose power Saturday night as a result of local fire conditions.

The office says it does not yet have more information about where the outages will be, when the power will be cut or how long the shutdown will last, but warns that high-wind conditions are expected to come late Saturday evening and may persist into Monday.

“While this event is currently expected to affect a much smaller number of customers, all Humboldt County residents should prepare for the possibility of a more widespread outage than currently planned, just in case,” an OES Facebook post states.

See the full post copied below our original report.

PREVIOUSLY:
The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is still awaiting information from PG&E about another round of Public Safety Power Shutoffs in Northern California slated to begin Oct. 26 and whether they will impact Humboldt County.

Emergency Services Manager Dorie Lanni was slated to join a PG&E conference call at 12:30 p.m. to get the latest from the company on its plans but warned that if she doesn’t get a definitive answer the Office of Emergency Services will warn residents to prepare to lose power. The office’s Facebook account offered a similar warning.

Humboldt Bay Power Plant. - YULIA WEEKS
  • Yulia Weeks
  • Humboldt Bay Power Plant.
“If it is still unclear after the afternoon announcement whether Humboldt County will be affected, we recommend planning as if there will be an outage so we’re not waiting for confirmed information hours before we lose power,” the post reads. “Stay tuned!”

The office further notes that wind gusts of up to 45 mph are forecast at higher elevations in Humboldt County on Saturday night, adding that local fire conditions had nothing to do with Humboldt County’s 28-hour blackout on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9. That blackout was caused by a shutoff in Shasta County, which disabled PG&E’s transmission lines into Humboldt County. (A company vice president also indicated that the blackout may have been partly due to the company’s performing maintenance on one of the two lines at the time of the blackout, though attempts to clarify that statement have proven unsuccessful.)

It's worth noting that a stream of misinformation hit the North Coast in advance of the last blackout, with PG&E first warning Humboldt officials that the county would be effected, then saying it would not, then saying it might be and only confirming it would, in fact, be impacted about six hours prior to the loss of power.

At this point, there’s no estimate of how long a blackout might last, if there is one, so residents are advised to check back for updates and prepare for the worst.

Check out our coverage of the past blackout here and check back for updates.


From OES:
10/24 Afternoon Update:
PG&E currently expects that approximately 2,188 Humboldt County customer connections will be de-energized on Saturday 10/26 as a result of wind-driven local fire conditions. We will post the outage map as soon as PG&E provides it, and it will also be available on their website. They are unable to provide specific timing or a total duration for the local shutdown, but the wind conditions are expected late Saturday evening, power may be shut down several hours in advance, and wind conditions may persist through Sunday and into Monday before restoration can begin.
We will continue to provide updates as we receive new information. While this event is currently expected to affect a much smaller number of customers, all Humboldt County residents should prepare for the possibility of a more widespread outage than currently planned, just in case.
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