Update, Saturday, Oct. 26, 3:40 p.m. PG&E now says the outage will happen at 8 p.m. Saturday, but that could change again. See the latest.
Update, 6:15 p.m. PG&E officials said in a press conference Friday evening that they believe power will not go off in parts of Berkeley and the Bay Area until around 7 p.m. Saturday, about two hours later than previously predicted. The utility will make a final determination at 8 a.m. Saturday about whether the outage will happen, said Sumeet Singh, manager of the Community Wildfire Safety Program.
The winds that will blow through Northern California from Saturday through Monday will be stronger “than we have seen in recent memory,” said Scott Strenfil, PG&E’s chief meteorologist. He categorized the weather as “an extreme event.” PG&E President Andy Vesey said “any spark, from whatever the source, can lead to catastrophic results.”
UC Berkeley said, in an update late Friday afternoon, that campus will move to backup power Saturday at noon, and that “UCPD will begin clearing all buildings (except residence halls) at noon and asking people to leave.” Saturday classes that meet after noon have been canceled. The Clark Kerr campus and Blackwell Hall could lose power if the city does because they are not linked to Cal’s backup power source. As for events, all indoor weekend events and activities, starting Saturday afternoon, “must be canceled. This must be done in order to maintain a reduced energy load. Outdoor activities at the Greek Theatre, Lower Sproul Plaza and a select other venues may proceed; please contact the events coordinator to verify.”
Cal Performances has announced that it has canceled all shows on Saturday and Sunday. The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) will also be closed over the weekend.
BUSD has said it will stay open but that two schools could be without power Monday.
Update, 3:30 p.m. City spokesman Matthai Chakko told Berkeleyside there’s little new outage information to share from PG&E — except that the agency has said it should be able to restore power within two or three days after the planned outage ends. Thursday night, the agency had said it might take up to six days. But that still means people could be without power for four or five days, depending on how long the outage itself lasts, Chakko said.
Community members and city staff have been frustrated by inconsistent, limited and conflicting information from PG&E. Chakko urged people who live in the Berkeley Hills to focus on being ready to evacuate should there be a wildfire.
The National Weather Service has announced a new red flag warning in the East Bay Hills, including parts of Berkeley, from Saturday night through Monday morning, due to “dangerously strong offshore winds and critically low humidity.” A heat advisory is in effect for Berkeley through Friday at 7 p.m. and a wind advisory is in effect from Saturday night into Monday at 11 a.m.
Original story, PG&E will cut power to more than 57,000 homes and businesses in Alameda County for more than two days beginning Saturday at 5 p.m., officials announced Friday. In Berkeley, approximately 7,000 locations representing an estimated 21,000 people will be affected, the city said Thursday night.
AC Alert put out an advisory message about PG&E’s plans Friday just before 10:30 a.m.: “Power is expected to be off for more than 48 hours,” according to the notice from AC Alert, which is run by the county. “We encourage you to find alternative energy sources for light, charging devices and other necessities. Plan ahead with food and water, and make sure your grab-and-go emergency kits are ready.”
In a notice Friday, UC Berkeley said campus will be largely without power “beginning Saturday evening” and advised “everyone” to stay away. Campus athletics and performances at Zellerbach Auditorium “will be held as scheduled,” however. Campus has access to some electricity through its cogeneration plant, officials said, and residence halls and dining facilities will have power.
“However, we ask that research and other activities be extremely restricted for the duration of the outage,” according to the notice, which did not include information about plans for Monday or whether classes will be held. Additional information is expected Friday afternoon.
Members of the campus community can sign up for the WarnMe system to get alerts from Cal.
Campus officials are also keeping an eye on air quality reports and will report back later “if air quality declines to a level that warrants additional campus actions.”
City of Berkeley spokesman Matthai Chakko said community members should be sure to take three key steps: (1) look up their address on the PG&E website for the most accurate information about whether they will be affected; (2) prepare for wildfire evacuations; and (3) prepare to be without power for four to seven days.
Chakko said that represented a slightly more optimistic message from PG&E, which previously said power could be out for up to eight days: the two-day planned outage followed by up to six days to turn the power back on. PG&E told the city Friday that it will take two to five days to get the power back on after the planned outage ends. That’s because restoring power involves checking all the powers lines closely for damage.
The city will keep a wifi signal available 24/7 outside all city libraries and will have charging stations available at the libraries during working hours, Chakko said Thursday night.
As of publication time, PG&E had not announced any Alameda County locations whether they will set up community resource centers during the upcoming outage.
Councilwoman Lori Droste noted Friday in an email to constituents that “The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is extending a Spare the Air Alert for smoke through today, Friday, October 25, for the entire region. The Air District is closely monitoring smoke impacts from the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and the northern portion of the Bay Area is currently experiencing smoke impacts. Additional smoke impacts are expected to spread across the Bay Area starting this evening.”
Learn more on the Spare the Air website.
Berkeleyside will report more details as soon as they are available. Sign up for breaking news alerts to get the latest critical information.