As part of its Community Wildfire Safety Program, Pacific Gas and Electric Company is building a network of weather stations to monitor and further advance its weather forecasting abilities to better predict where a wildfire could occur so it can respond quickly and appropriately to help keep customers and communities safe.
Since January of this year, PG&E has added more than 50 new weather stations, with around 200 total planned to be built and installed across PG&E’s service area by the end of the year. The newly added stations are located in Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Marin, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Tuolumne counties.
Data collected by these stations will be streamed in real time and available to state and local agencies and the public through online sources such as NOAA and MesoWest.
“We saw first-hand last year how extreme weather events driven by climate change are causing unprecedented and unanticipated wildfires,” said Kevin Dasso, PG&E vice president of Electric Asset Management. “Adding new weather stations in high fire-threat areas across our service area enhances our weather forecasting and modeling to help bolster wildfire prevention and response efforts and keep our customers safe.”
PG&E has historically used weather forecast data for many purposes, mainly for predicting storm damage and for assessing fire danger. Its team of meteorologists, which includes fire-weather specialists, performs daily monitoring of current and forecast weather patterns and fire threat projections using in-house and publicly available data from the National Weather Service, CAL FIRE, US Forest Service and more. This information helps PG&E predict when and where the fire threat will be high or extreme so additional steps can be taken to keep critical infrastructure, utility crews and communities safe.
With these new weather stations, PG&E will be able to capture additional real-time data related to temperature, wind speeds and humidity levels to provide improved awareness of current fire danger conditions.
PG&E’s meteorologists will feed information to the company’s new Wildfire Safety Operations Center team to review data and determine any needed action to help reduce wildfire risks. In the event of extreme fire danger conditions, one of the actions PG&E may take is temporarily turning off electricity for safety in specific areas. PG&E is reaching out to customers who are served by electric lines in extreme fire-threat areas to let them know about possible power outages during high wildfire threats so they can take steps to prepare.
These new weather stations are one of the additional precautionary measures PG&E is putting in place as part of its Community Wildfire Safety Program, intended to reduce wildfire threats and strengthen communities for the future. More information can be found at pge.com/wildfiresafety.