"Wind speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour were recorded earlier today in most of these counties, including wind speeds over 70 miles per hour in Sonoma County", PG&E said in the statement.
The utility said it was monitoring conditions for another 14,000 customers and could have to cut power to them depending on the weather. "Gusty offshore flow and dry conditions will keep critical fire weather conditions in place over the North and East Bay higher terrain", stated the National Weather Service forecast office in San Francisco in a forecast discussion posted on its website.
PG&E says it had 45 helicopters and 5,500 employees working to perform the visual inspections it requires before reactivating power.
The San Francisco-based California utility said high fire-risk conditions, including high wind gusts, are expected to begin early Wednesday, which will prompt it to enforce Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), a preemptive action aimed at minimizing the threat of wildfires that could be sparked by lines brought down in gusting winds.
Some public safety workers had to drive for an hour to see if they needed to check in, said John Kennedy of the Rural County Representatives of California.
The power outage could affect as many as 250,000 customers in 19 counties in the Sierra Foothills, North Valley, and North Bay regions. Later in the afternoon, PG&E removed from its shutoff list another 6,800 customers from parts of Tehama, Butte and Yuba counties.
Lake County Supervisor Moke Simon said AT&T's network went down right away during an outage in late October, risking sewer and alarm systems.
Many of those whose planned shutoffs were rescinded Wednesday had already made plans to stay home from work to take care of children, had disposed of refrigerated food and otherwise had their lives seriously disrupted in anticipation of another outage. On Tuesday night, some school districts canceled classes at campuses expected to be without power.
"We're making that commitment very publicly that next year we will not be in this situation", Vesey said. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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