Friday, January 04, 2008

Sacramento Storm

That was a doozy!
I had no power all day, accounting for the late post.
Back early tomorrow.

Winds have died down, but a soggy Saturday awaits
By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg, Matt Weiser, Dorothy Korber -
Published 12:16 pm PST Friday, January 4, 2008

Winds that pummeled the Sacramento region Friday died down by afternoon, leaving behind toppled trees, damaged homes and prolonged power outages. Around the region, communities braced for a new storm expected Saturday evening.

Sierra snow levels were dropping Friday night after a day that saw rain rather than snow at lower elevations. Forecasters lowered their predictions of how much snow the three-storm wave will drop in the mountains, now anticipating 5 to 7 feet, instead of 10.

The wind-whipped storm closed major roads and bridges throughout the region. As of Friday evening, Caltrans had closed Interstate 80 in the mountains, because increasing snow and winds had caused near zero-visibility. Officials were turning traffic around at Applegate, just east of Auburn, and also at the Nevada state line.

"We are anticipating it will be closed all night, depending on the winds and snow levels we get," spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins said.

Throughout Northern California, hundreds of thousands of residents remained without electricity, and for large swaths of the region, it was not clear when power would be restored.

At its peak Friday morning, about 1.4 million Pacific Gas and Electric customers from the Oregon border down to Bakersfield were without power, or more than a quarter of its customers in that region. As of Friday evening, more than 800,000 were still without power.

PG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Ramp said the utility was working to stabilize the system in advance of the next storm wave, and would have crews working through the night.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District officials were able to restore electricity to about 50,000 customers Friday afternoon and expected to restore another 50,000 by 10 p.m. But 50,000 will remain without power overnight; and some could stay in the dark for days.

SMUD had 75 power poles down in its service area, as well as power outages caused by other problems. There are just too many problems to restore power to all customers quickly, spokeswoman Dace Udris said. SMUD planned to keep 25 percent of its repair crews working overnight, with the remaining 75 percent working a 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. shift.