High wind warning issued for the Bay Area

The utility is anticipating some power outages if the wind storm produces the 60 mph gusts that weather forecasters are predicting, PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said this morning.

The National Weather Service has issued a high-wind warning for the Bay Area that will be in effect for Wednesday and Thursday as a dry weather system moves through the region, weather service forecaster Duane Dykema said.

"It's not really what most people would consider a 'storm,'" Dykema said this morning.

He said rain is not expected but that gusts of 60 to 70 mph are anticipated at higher elevations, with gusts of 40 to 45 mph in lower-lying areas, Dykema said.

"It's going to be really blustery almost everywhere," he said.

Sarkissian said PG&E spends more than $180 million annually to inspect more than 130,000 miles of power lines in its service area from Eureka to Bakersfield to make sure they are safe.

Although the utility focuses in particular on trimming unhealthy tree limbs that overhang power lines, it also monitors healthy limbs that pose a threat, she said.

Of the power outages in PG&E's service area, 13 percent are caused by tree limbs that fall onto power lines. Of those, 90 percent are caused by healthy tree branches, she said.

Customers reporting power outages can call PG&E at (800) 743-5002.

People who encounter a downed power line should assume it is live, keep a safe distance away, and call 911 and PG&E, Sarkissian said.

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