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NEVADA CITY, Calif. October 14, 2018 – A wind event is forecast for much of Northern California today and into Monday night. The latest update from the National Weather Service in Sacramento is forecasting winds out of the northeast with gusts up to 40 mph overnight. Given the weather models PG&E may shut off power in extreme fire threat areas in 12 counties in NorCal. If you live in one of the affected areas and are a PG&E customer, you will have received at least one phone call, email or text to alert you to the possibility. More updates are forthcoming, including a final alert 1-3 hours before any shutoff.
What is being done to keep you safe?
As with any possible high-impact weather event, the National Weather Service is issuing frequent updates for the public and the agencies. Yesterday, the exiting Fire Weather Watch was upgraded to a Red Flag Warning, the highest possible alert, because of the predicted gusty winds and low humidities. At publication time, the relative humidity (RH) at the White Cloud weather station (elevation 4,320 ft) was 20% and the Reader Ranch weather station (elevation 1,968 ft) recorded a 16% RH. Kiln-dried lumber has a 16% moisture content.
CAL FIRE and the local fire agencies have upstaffed in preparation for the wind event. “As we remember the tragic fires that occurred this time last year, they should serve as a reminder for everyone to be prepared for the unexpected. We have increased our staffing, but need the public to remain vigilant,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “It is important to follow evacuation orders and leave early as fires move very fast under these conditions.”
Both the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and the Grass Valley Emergency Command Center (ECC) have backup generators, your 911 calls will be answered.
The Nevada County Office of Emergency Services (OES) is closely monitoring the situation, the Public Works Department and Health and Human Services Agency are on alert. If you have medical issues (oxygen or other equipment requiring uninterrupted power and no backup power) you can call 211 Nevada County for a list of resources. Dial 211 or check out their resources on their website. 211 is available 24/7.
In the event of a fire requiring evacuations, Nevada County’s CodeRED system will attempt to notify you. If you have a landline, you are automatically registered, but remember a power outage can affect your ability to receive calls if your handset requires power. You can register multiple addresses and devices here.
PG&E is in the process of notifying customers in potentially affected areas with a second round of notifications via phone, email or text.
What should you do today?
First, don’t panic – prepare. A wind event is not a once in a lifetime occurrence, our area is prone to Red Flag Warnings this time of year. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the intensity or frequency, but for not let’s deal with the upcoming event.
- If your water supply comes from a well, fill up containers.
- Freeze some containers filled with water and place them in your fridge to keep food cold.
- Don’t overstock your fridge or freezer.
- Secure any objects that might get blown away, patio chairs, decorations etc.
- Make sure you have a flashlight with working batteries.
- Charge all your devices, cell phones, tablets etc. Make sure you have an adapter to be able to charge your cellphone in your car.
- Make a list of your emergency contact phone numbers, if your cell phone battery is depleted, your contact list is unavailable.
- A battery-powered radio is a handy device when electronics fail, local radio stations and NOAA weather channels will provide updates.
- If you have an automatic garage door opener, make sure you are physically able to open the garage door manually.
- If you are taking medications that need refrigeration, have a small portable ice chest ready.
- Have your prescription medications packed in an easily accessible location.
- Fill up the gas tank in your car. In the event of a fire, you may have to evacuate – if there is no power available, gas stations may be closed. If you have an electric car, fully charge it.
- Talk to your family members about your evacuation plan, where to meet up (identify at least 2 locations) and how to stay in contact with each other.
- Have evacuation cages for your pets and bring them in once the wind event starts.
- Check your local media for updates.
- Have some books or board games ready – being bored only increases stress.
- Check on your neighbors.
In case of a fire, if you are asked to evacuate, be ready and leave immediately.
- If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911.
- Turn your headlights on! If winds are blowing hard, debris and tree limbs are likely to come down – give yourself the extra visibility.
- Don’t risk your life for a selfie. A photo of you with flames in the background or a tree hanging just over your head is not the last memory you want your family and loved ones to have.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
Be prepared, be ready, be informed. You got this.