PG&E installs Bay Area weather stations to monitor fire danger

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- For the first time, PG&E showed off their new weather stations going up across the Bay Area and Northern California to monitor for increasing fire danger.

Extreme hot weather and unprecedented wildfires have prompted PG&E to launch a new three prong approach to addressing what they call "the new normal," that is an almost year-round fire season.

First they are putting up weather stations at key places like above the Caldecott Tunnel on the Oakland approach.

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Meteorologist Allison Bagley said "this weather station will be measuring wind speed, wind direction, temperature and relative humidity and the data is streamed to our systems. "

So far 50 of these stations are installed. 150 more will be in place in northern and central California by the end of 2018. Step two is a brand new PG&E wild fire safety operations center that just opened this spring in San Francisco.

PG&E spokesperson Matt Nauman said "it receives data from across our territory and receives weather data from our new weather stations that we're showing today and there are analysts there monitoring conditions 24/7."

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If the fire danger is perceived to be extreme, number three comes into play. For the first time, PG&E can proactively shut down electricity to particular areas or neighborhoods.

"It's a last resort. We will give customers as much notice as we can, hopefully 48 hours notice," Nauman said.

But it could be as little as one hour notice under this new PG&E wildfire protocol. That's why they want to make sure they can text or email customers if they feel they must shut down power to an area. The utility wants all their customers to update their contact information so they can be alerted about power outages that may impact them during fire season. Click here for more information.

For more stories, photos, and video on the North Bay fires, visit this page.
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