Update: Portola Valley, Woodside prepare for power shutoffs at noon today

Town halls, Roberts markets will stay open, with services and generators available

The Woodside district fire marshal is warning Portola Valley and Woodside residents to prepare themselves and their households for a fire danger-related power shutoff that is expected to begin at noon today and last up to five days.

Fire Marshal Denise Enea of the Woodside Fire Protection District issued an alert last night stating that PG&E plans to cut power to most of Portola Valley and Woodside and many of the coastal communities midday.

"Power will not be restored until the extreme fire weather event is over and PG&E is able to conduct a visual inspection of the power lines," she wrote. "Power restoration can be anywhere from 36 hours up to 5 days."

Residents should be prepared for disruption in phone and internet service.

"Cell service and internet will potentially be spotty or non-existent in your neighborhood depending if your cell or internet carrier has backup power at their towers," Enea wrote."Only land-line telephones with 'POTS' (plain old telephone lines), that do not need an electrical outlet, may work. It is likely that many residents will not be able to receive SMC Alert messages because of cell and internet outages. The PG&E power shutdown timeline also corresponds with a 'red flag' extreme fire weather event."

Enea urges residents to prepare in advance "for medical needs, i.e. devices that need power or medication that needs refrigeration. Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers available.

"Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, and other battery lighting. Have nonperishable food available and some cash. Learn how to manually operate your garage door and any automatic gate.

"Do not use portable generators inside or near windows.

"Portola Valley will update its emergency AM broadcast station 1680 as new information becomes available from PG&E. P& can also be a main source for information updates," Enea said.

Both Portola Valley and Woodside town halls have backup generators and places to go if people need water and to charge devices, town officials said.

The Roberts markets in both towns are going to stay open and have backup generators, according to Parker Scott, manager of Roberts Market in Woodside.

Earlier this week, the National Weather Service called a "Fire Weather Watch" beginning Tuesday night and lasting through Thursday. The alert was prompted by predicted severe and dry offshore winds during that period. Forecasters say it's likely to be the strongest offshore wind event of the 2019 fire season.

Rick Radin contributed to this report.


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7 people like this
Posted by Woodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 9, 2019 at 10:03 am

If there is an actual weather event, such as high winds, then I understand.

As it looks now and in the forecast, the wind is barely getting above a light breeze in Woodside and I will be royally annoyed if we lose power for several days totally as a precautionary measure.

We had fairly strong wind one day last week, and no power outage.

PG&E appears to be significantly overstepping their bounds, thanks to lawyers, I'm sure, but only time will tell for sure.

13 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 9, 2019 at 10:05 am

It would be nice if the Almanac could provide map images larger than postage stamp sized.

2 people like this
Posted by neenee
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Oct 9, 2019 at 12:32 pm

neenee is a registered user.

The Highwinds are supposed to start overnight tonight and into Thursday

4 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 9, 2019 at 1:36 pm

The state should require PG&E and the counties to remove any trees which pose a hazard to any power lines. Yes it will cost money and we will lose trees, but it would hopefully significantly lower the fire danger from power lines. Also it would go a long way to eliminate the need or want of PG&E to cover their derrière and protect their shareholders by shutting down the power if someone passes gas too forcefully near one of their power lines.

3 people like this
Posted by Barry
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 9, 2019 at 3:30 pm

All it takes is one good gust of wind to knock down a branch onto power lines and spark a fire. PG&E is just the scapegoat for public land-use policies which create communities concentrated in areas of high fire risk and populated by residents resistant to cutting down trees and too busy to practice preventative maintenance. We Californians pinned the blame on PG&E for the damage from last year's Camp Fire: they had to file for bankruptcy and settle for at least $1 billion in liabilities. So PG&E now has no choice but to shut off power if there's any risk of fire.

Like this comment
Posted by Woodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 9, 2019 at 8:47 pm

According to the current weather forecast, we are not supposed to have wind above 5-6 miles per hour over then next 48 hours.

One would hope the outage will be canceled.

Like this comment
Posted by 1000mg
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 9, 2019 at 8:55 pm

Last night/Wednesday morning the wind came up (hard) at 2am for half an hour. And stopped.

Fact. Was it forecasted?

Like this comment
Posted by whstever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 10, 2019 at 8:14 am

Perhaps you didn't read the beginning of my comment.
The state needs to require the removal of any trees posing a hazard.

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