Snowfall has abated and weather conditions are improving, but tens of thousands of homes and businesses were left without power Thursday morning in the mountains and icy foothills of the Sierra Nevada after a massive winter storm hit. hit northern California this week.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in an update said the outages continued to affect about 80,000 of its customers as of Wednesday evening, while about 157,000 others were restored between Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon.
More than 18,000 went without power in El Dorado County and over 17,000 in Nevada County, according to PG&E’s online outage map, with some of the biggest outages near Placerville, Pollock Pines, Camino , Grass Valley and Nevada City.
PG&E says the extended outages are due to the severity of the storm, which caused extensive damage to electrical equipment and also made access for repair crews at times difficult, if not impossible.
PG&E’s website did not include estimated restore times for the large outages, and the utility company in a press release said it “reached out to customers with updates via phone calls. , text messages, social media updates and more, and will continue to provide updated estimated restore times as they become available.
“Dangerous” conditions on the highways of the Sierra
Interstate 80 and Highway 50 reopened to traffic earlier this week with chain controls in place, but Caltrans, law enforcement and other authorities continued to strongly discourage non-essential travel by Sierra.
“Some communities in the Sierra have NO electricity and some gas stations have NO gasoline / fuel, so wait and avoid traveling,” Caltrans District 3 tweeted early Thursday morning.
Nevada Gov. Stephen Sisolak also ordered the closure of Highway 50 at the state border to non-essential traffic on Tuesday evening, except for returning Nevada residents.
In a video message, Caltrans director Toks Omishakin said the storm caused damage estimated at $ 22 million.
“We strongly recommend that only essential travel occur at this time,” Omishakin said. “If this is a trip just to spend time with family and friends, we say, ‘Don’t use the roads’. Stay off the road. The conditions are dangerous.
The National Weather Service reported that several ski resorts in the Tahoe area, including Northstar and Palisades Tahoe, have received nearly 10 feet of snow since December 21, and many elevations in the central Sierra Nevada range have exceeded the 5 feet.
The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab has recorded an astounding 126 inches over the past nine days, according to the weather service. On Wednesday morning, the lab reported reaching 210 inches for the month, extending its record for the snowiest December on record. The lab, located at Donner Pass, broke the previous record of 179, set in 1970, by nearly 3 feet.
Snow also fell at very low elevations this week as a colder system passed, with flakes or powder reported in towns including Auburn, Placerville, the town of Magalia in Butte County and the wine town of Angwin.
Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties declare states of emergency
Placer County has declared a local emergency, and neighboring counties of El Dorado and Nevada are in the process of doing the same.
The Nevada County Supervisory Board has scheduled a special meeting Thursday afternoon to declare a local emergency, officials said in social media posts.
El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini on Wednesday signed a local emergency proclamation, which will be presented to the Oversight Board next Tuesday.
D’Agostini’s proclamation said this month’s storms “pose an immediate threat to many citizens, roads, facilities, structures, including roads and water infrastructure.”
Placer County officials said on Wednesday evening that more than 10,000 residents were still without power and widespread blackouts are expected for several days.
“While all of our local resources are committed to this weather incident, this proclamation is a critical step in ensuring we have access to any additional resources that may be needed,” wrote the deputy county emergency services director. of Placer, Dave Atkinson, in a statement.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered the governor’s emergency services office to activate the state operations center, to help and coordinate the storm response.
The outages and emergency declarations come amid a continuing cold spell, with nighttime temperatures expected to drop to 30 degrees late Thursday and into the 1920s on Friday and Saturday across the foothills.
The El Dorado County Library in Placerville opened as a warm-up center on Wednesday afternoon and will do so again from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, with weekend opportunities still being evaluated. .
Near-freezing nighttime temperatures are also expected in the Sacramento Valley.
The city of Sacramento is opening three weather respite centers and Sacramento County is opening two this weekend for the homeless.