West Marin meteorological equipment strengthens fire risk monitoring
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. set up its last weather monitoring station in West Marin on Wednesday as strong winds heightened the threat of fire.
The device, placed on an electric pole off Nicasio Valley Road, aims to collect data on wind speed, humidity and temperatures. The information – shared with firefighters – puts the utility in a better position to spare customers from coordinated outages and prepare for extreme weather conditions, the utility said.
Over the past two years, the utility has added more than 1,240 weather monitoring stations and 340 high definition fire surveillance cameras to its service area. In Le Marin, this includes 31 weather stations, ten of which have been installed this year.
On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a “red flag” warning for higher elevations in Marin and other parts of North Bay. He said the dry air and northeast winds that could blow 35 mph at the higher peaks had to move overnight. Relative humidity could drop as much as 8% to 15%, forecasters said. The warning is in place until 11 a.m. Thursday.
“PG&E meteorologists continuously monitor the weather using hyperlocal data collected from weather stations,” said Deanna Contreras, spokesperson for the utility.
She said the utility does not expect any power outages over the next seven days.
Contreras said PG&E plans to have 1,300 stations by the end of the year, providing one monitor for every 20 miles of power lines in high fire risk areas designated by the California Public Utilities Commission. .
In 2020, the additional equipment kept current for around 800,000 meters system-wide in the event of a high fire risk, Contreras said.
Mark Brown, general manager of the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority, said that before retiring from his post as Deputy Fire Chief of the Marin County Fire Department, he worked with PG&E to recommend sites in the county that would be most suitable for weather monitors. .
“As a coastal county with many hills, valleys and canyons, there are many microclimates in Marin and the additional weather stations help tremendously,” Brown said. “It’s important that they vary not only in location but also in elevation so that we can see where the inversion and thermal belts are.”
Officials also benefit from an ad hoc weather forecast informed by monitors when there is an active fire or when firefighters are training or performing a prescribed burn exercise, Brown said.
Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber agreed.
“The more weather stations we have for observation, the more accurate the readings and the better able we are to identify conditions,” Weber said.
The county dispatched two response teams, each consisting of about 38 firefighters and five engines, to fires outside the county. Both teams battled the Fawn blaze in Shasta County until a team of firefighters from Southern Marin, Tiburon, Central Marin and Kentfield were redeployed to the Windy blaze in Sequoia National Forest. .
The Fawn fire burned over 8,500 acres and is approximately 70% contained. Windy’s fire burned about 87,000 acres and was 25% contained on Wednesday.
In Marin, the fire stations are fully staffed and ready, Weber said.
“The state is still in the thick of it,” Weber said. “Generally, we won’t feel comfortable around Marin until we have 3 inches of precipitation. It would lead us to a better place.