Heavy storm leads PG&E, city of Berkeley to issue precautions

Photo of Berkeley buildings and grey sky
Gisselle Reyes/Staff
According to PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian, winds from an anticipated heavy storm will have the strongest effects along the coast, in the Bay Area and the Sacramanto and northern San Joaquin Valley. The storm is predicted to last in the Bay Area until Friday.

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With an “atmospheric river” causing heavy rain and high winds predicted to last in the Bay Area through Friday, PG&E and the city of Berkeley issued precautions to help locals stay safe.

PG&E meteorologists predicted that the storm will affect PG&E’s service areas in Northern and central California with “gusty winds, low snow and prolonged periods of moderate to heavy rain,” according to PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian. Multiple watches and warnings were issued by the National Weather Service, including a flash flood watch in the East Bay hills through Thursday, according to a city of Berkeley press release.

This winter storm may possibly become one of the strongest the PG&E service area has seen in several years, according to Sarkissian.

“Winds will be strongest along the coast, across the Bay Area and through the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin Valley reaching 30–40 mph, with gusts 45–55+ mph possible,” Sarkissian said in an email. “Specific to the East Bay, we expect adverse weather (Wednesday), with conditions improving (Thursday).”

A significant number of power outages may occur, according to Sarkissian. As of Wednesday morning, 122 Berkeley customers were affected by outages, in addition to a total of 15,647 outages in the Bay Area.

Sarkissian noted in the email that to mitigate the potential hazards and dangers of the storm, PG&E has “all-hands on deck” working to respond to outages and restore power as efficiently as possible.

“PG&E uses a Storm Outage Prediction Model that helps us determine the potential timing, location and number of power outages,” Sarkissian said in the email. “We use the model to pre-activate our local emergency centers and have employees on alert and ready to respond to power outages before the storm hits our service area.”

Sarkissian added that PG&E urges customers to make a plan in case an outage occurs and to report downed power lines to emergency services. In a press release, the city of Berkeley also recommended community members to report other issues such as clogged drains, fallen trees on the road and other damage to infrastructure caused by the storm.

Contact Katia Pokotylo at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @katiapokotylo_.