PG&E prepares for weekend storm, some holiday events canceled in Bay Area

ByCornell Barnard, Anser Hassan, Tim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, December 10, 2022
PG&E prepares for weekend storm, some events canceled in Bay Area
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The Bay Area is getting storm ready, preparing for an atmospheric river event this weekend that could cause power outages.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area is getting storm ready, preparing for an atmospheric river event this weekend. Utility crews are standing by and some events could be rained out.

TIMELINE: Heavy rain in Bay Area this weekend, massive snow dump in Tahoe

PG&E crews in Santa Rosa were making last minute repairs on power lines, ahead of this weekend's storm. The utility has been stockpiling extra transformers and other equipment just in case.

"We're opening emergency centers, bringing in extra crews from outside the area to help support the event," said Ron Richardson, PG&E's North Coast VP.

Richardson is concerned about the storm bringing high winds and power outages.

LIVE: Track real-time weather conditions in the Bay Area

"We're anticipating 50 mph winds, we haven't seen those winds in a while, expecting some outages and three inches of rain," said Richardson.

PG&E is asking customers to prepare for possible outages by having flashlights and batteries ready and have cell phones fully charged.

In Santa Rosa, rehearsals were happening for the Drag on Ice' show Friday night at Old Courthouse Square.

"We're all just praying for great weather tonight," said Carmen Maria Mitchell.

But just in case, free rain panchos were standing by for audience members.

MORE: Major winter storm could make Tahoe travel 'difficult to impossible' Saturday

Windsor's Winter Faire on Saturday has been canceled on the town green due to the storm. Broadway on ice was the scheduled highlight of the faire but organizers say, don't melt the ice just yet.

"We're pivoting, the show must go on," said Mitchell.

Carmen Maria Mitchell is founder of the Redwood Theater Company. The organization's synthetic ice rink is being moved inside, into Windsor's Huerta Gym.

"We're trying to put our best foot forward and keep the holiday spirit alive," said Mitchell.

There's been a week's worth of preparations for the weekend storm across the North Bay. From from lowering a Rubber Dam on the Russian River to prevent flooding downstream, to clearing leaves from storm drains in Marin County which could prevent a flood.

VIDEO: PG&E prepares for possible power outages this weekend

In Marin County, the city of Sausalito has been preparing for a busy social weekend that kicked off with the opening of Candy Cane Lane.

Many shoppers and store owners say they hope the wet weather isn't as bad as expected.

"Most Sausalitans either hunker down when the rains come, or they go out and play when the sun is out. So right there in the middle is the sweet spot for businesses I think," said store owner, Teri Lang.

The city is also expected to host a 5K on Sunday, as well as its famous lighted boat parade Saturday night.

Both events are expected to happen rain or shine.

Alexandra Cantin was out enjoying Candy Cane Lane Friday evening.

A longtime mariner, she was supposed to participate in the boat parade.

But she says unless the skies stay clear, she'll probably be at home.

"Most of the charters have canceled. I think the power boats will go out because they're inside a cabin and they're a little safer," Cantin said.

VIDEO: Small storms still have big impact as CA fire season now year-round

This time of year at the outdoor Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, the pressure is on to beat the holiday shopping crowds, and this weekend, even the rain.

"Try to beat the rain, beat the crowds. It's (going to be) Saturday, getting close to Christmas. Do what you can, get it done," says John Swift, a Livermore resident, who was at the plaza shopping for a gift for his wife.

"Yeah, not shopping tomorrow. Might be crowded, but I just don't want to walk around in the rain," says Sandy, an Alamo resident, who only wanted to be identified by first name.

December kicked off with a series of winter storms. This weekend, another storm is expected to dump several rounds of heavy rain across the Bay Area. Far from ending the current drought, the downpour can still make a difference, says Steve Hill with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

MORE: How CA's investment in wildfire prevention contributed to a less severe fire season

"Our fire season, for better or for worse, is very close to year-round now here in Northern California, across much of the western United States. So, that means we get a little respite here with these winter months," says Hill.

He says vegetation fires aren't just limited to the traditional fire season anymore. Though longer-term forecasts predict another dry winter for much of California, Hill says these small storms keep the ground moist, which can help limit the spread of wildfires, even in winter months.

"In the last few weeks, we have certainly responded to a number of vegetation fires. They just go anywhere, very fast anyway, because of the damp conditions we have," explains Hill.

The Bay Area may get between to one to two inches of rain this weekend, with minor flooding in some parts. Downed trees and isolated powers outages are also possible in areas that get high gusts of wind.

VIDEO: What you can do right now to prepare for a PG&E power shut down

Back at the Broadway Plaza, some shoppers say the rain may be an inconvenience, but not an obstacle.

"We will shop in the rain, because we are dedicated shoppers. Absolutely!" says Dorene Adams with a laugh. She was shopping at the plaza with her daughter.

Fire officials say the much needed rain brings its own set of challenges. Hill says it is a reminder to slow down when driving. "Arrive Alive" is one of the slogans they are promoting.

Hill says with more people staying home, it's important to keep an eye on candles and the fireplace for fire dangers.

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