A fire that has been burning through the wine country of California’s Sonoma County for the past few days was spurring evacuations on Sunday in Santa Rosa, its largest city. As firefighters worked to control blazes in both Northern and Southern California, even residents who aren’t evacuating face rolling blackouts and poor air quality, reported NPR.
PG&E, the state’s electric utility, said it would cut power to 940,000 homes and businesses in 38 counties. That means an estimated 2.35 million people are without power, according to The Associated Press, though the National Weather Service pegged the figure at closer to 3 million. The utility company said it was notifying customers 48 hours and 24 hours in advance and then again just before cutting power — but warned that other customers could lose power without notice because of damage to PG&E equipment.
High wind warnings were in effect, mostly across Northern California, from Saturday night into Monday, reported the National Weather Service. The NWS warned that wind gusts could reach 80 mph near mountain summits, 60 mph below the summits and 55 mph across large parts of the San Francisco Bay area.
The FCC activated its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) for 32 counties in California: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Marin, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba. The agency cautioned the operational status of communications services during the power shutoffs may evolve rapidly, and this report represents a snapshot in time.
The percentage of cell sites out of service on Sunday was 2.4 percent. Out of a total of 25,893 cell sites, 630 were out: 401 had no power, 120 were out because of transport issues and 79 were damaged, according to the DIRS report.
Marin County had the most cell site outages at 49.6 percent. Of 270 sites, 134 were not operating. 105 had no power, 10 were out were not operational because of transport issues and nine were damaged.
Cable and wireline companies reported 393,735 subscribers out of service due to the power shutoffs; this may include the loss of telephone, television, and/or internet services. No outages of 911 services were reported.
No television stations reported being off-air, while four FMs were off-the-air. Two FMs transmitted their programming to other stations. No AMs reported being off-air.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
October 28, 2019