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    Northern California goes dark

    Pacific Gas & Electric--who really must be near the top of the worst utility companies anywhere--has started voluntarily shutting off power to hundreds of thousands of people in Northern California as a wildfire prevention measure (the area is expected to be hit with severe winds). San Francisco isn't effected, but Silicon Valley, San Jose, the northern Bay Area, and the Central Valley is going dark, possibly for days. There was almost no warning, and from what I've heard grocery stores and hardware stores looked like what you see at stores when a hurricane is about to hit. California isn't used to warnings of incoming disasters like this.

    #2
    Seems like clearing the area around the powerlines would be a better solution.

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      #3
      Well, they were meant to clear up around their power lines for the last many decades and failed to do that. Nobody in their right mind would trust PG&E to actually do the work that's required.

      I'm actually not sure what they should do in this instance. They probably don't have much choice but to shut off the power. Even if the idea of keeping it off into next week seems strange.

      It would also help if people (like my next door neighbour) understood the concept of defensible space and actually cleared out flammable dried out vegetation close to homes and other buildings.

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        #4
        There were reports this morning that they will have to close the Caldecott Tunnel, which would make East Bay traffic insane.

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          #6
          Winds are beginning to pick up here, but we're not getting any of the expected heat yet. Of course, we're way to the south of where the serious action's happening, but there's still Santa Anas and SD G&E are also talking about shutting down power to some mountain towns in the county.

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            #7
            My in-laws are right on the border of the area of the Oakland Hills that may be affected. They currently aren't sure that they will have power when they get home from work.

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              #8
              Good luck to them. It seems very unhelpful that we don't have exact details of when and where the outages are happening.

              I have friends who're flying into SF on Friday and driving to Yosemite. I've told them to be prepared for a degree of chaos as a result of this.

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                #9
                Originally posted by San Bernardhinault View Post
                Good luck to them. It seems very unhelpful that we don't have exact details of when and where the outages are happening.

                I have friends who're flying into SF on Friday and driving to Yosemite. I've told them to be prepared for a degree of chaos as a result of this.
                yeah...this is an instance where I'd seriously consider cancelling that trip.

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                  #10
                  Originally posted by San Bernardhinault View Post

                  It would also help if people (like my next door neighbour) understood the concept of defensible space and actually cleared out flammable dried out vegetation close to homes and other buildings.
                  There have to be local laws covering this sort of thing, surely?

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                    #11
                    It's freedom, man

                    More seriously, there often are not for a host of reasons beyond this county's embrace of libertarianism. For one, many people live in unincorporated areas where there is no formal municipal government. Which is itself a not insignificant part of the fire problem, as it can be hard to prevent people from building in at risk areas even when there is a political will to do so (which there often is not).

                    My in laws still have power and they brought in generators to keep the Caldecott open, but the situation is very much a complete mess.

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                      #12
                      I think it's hard to write fire-zoning code about defensible space: what counts as flammable vegetation, what kinds of trees can you have within certain distances of houses, just how much do you need to cut it back. There's an example of a community in San Diego County that did manage it, and all the homes there have survived totally unscathed when fires came through - but that community is in Rancho Santa Fe, which is one of the wealthiest places in the US. So when they're asked to make sure the roofing material is not flammable, that's something that can actually happen despite the cost. And they almost all have landscaping companies who maintain the vegetation far enough. Despite this, they make a massive fuss every year there's not a fire, so every time it's successful it gets harder to maintain...

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                        #13
                        Hard to write, hard to pass and very hard to enforce

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                          #14
                          So - in the stream of Blackout pictures on twitter, who was the first wag last night to post about Dodgers stadium? I feel like I went to bed too early when my moment was about to emerge (I was asleep by 10pm).

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                            #15
                            We were all too stunned to troll them

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                              #16
                              It's a very weird Santa Ana event. Here, even at the eastern edge of San Diego, it's just very slightly breezy this evening, and actually pretty cool. You wouldn't have the faintest idea that 30 miles away in the mountains there are 50-70mph wind gusts (almost Cat 1 Hurricane speeds), and humidity somewhere around 7% - conditions that are absolutely ideal for forest fires.

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                                #17
                                4,600 acre fire in Sylmar that is 0% contained at this point.

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