Author Topic: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.  (Read 266 times)

elagache

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Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« on: October 15, 2019, 11:35:04 PM »
Dear WeatherCat users in the USA who have concerns about wildfires,

Last week was a "fun" week here in the San Francisco Bay Area. [banghead]  Pacific Gas and Electric finally carried out their threats to cut the power off to many locations in response to strong off-shore wind event that caused humidities to plummet in addition to the winds.  I'm trying to decide if we need to upgrade our means to cope with no power and this decision is being tempered in part by the fury of the press and politicians to last week's outages and partly in the hope that the season might have finally moved beyond the point where power cutoffs are likely.  As part of this, I sought a shorter-term assessment of the potential fire dangers and came across this site from the National Interagency Fire Center:

https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/psp/npsg/forecast#/outlooks?state=map

It is an interactive map that you can use to check on the fire risk on a day-to-day basis.  Anyone in wildfire territory might find it useful for short-term planning.

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

Blicj11

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Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2019, 05:06:37 AM »
Thanks for sharing Edouard. Interesting graphic.
Blick


xairbusdriver

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Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2019, 11:16:14 PM »
Edouard, since you live out there, can you explain how cutting power to relatively limited areas helps lower fire risks? ??? Perhaps, they are simply re-routing feed lines in certain areas (where fire risks are high) and then lowering the loads on the alternate lines by cutting power to the end users of those lines? :-\ The "news" we get here dosen't have any real details, as if we should have it... [rolleyes2]

elagache

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*Sigh* . . . . . (Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.)
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2019, 12:09:31 AM »
Dear Blick, X-Air, and WeatherCat faithful,

Edouard, since you live out there, can you explain how cutting power to relatively limited areas helps lower fire risks? ???
. . . .

*Sigh* I wish there was a truly rational explanation.  The real explanation is legal liability reduction.  A number of wildfires have been caused (supposedly) by failures of PG&E equipment.  In particular, the Camp fire which burned the town of Paradise was caused when a very high voltage wire supplying power to the entire region broke off the steel tower that supported it.  This happened in a very rugged uninhabited area, but the fire spread quickly toward the towns that ultimately were burned.

The inconvenient truth for PG&E was the winds responsible for the failure where hardly extreme by electrical utility standards - no more than around 50 mph (If I recall correctly closer to 35 mph.)  If utilities couldn't trust they power lines to withstand that sort of winds in tornado alley, there would be no electricity in those locations.  It seems clear that PG&E had been deferring maintenance on these towers and the insulators that would have been able to withstand the winds - failed.

According to the utility, they have been working at a breakneck speed to inspect all their infrastructure and bring up to industry safety standards.  However, there is blood in the water and lawyers will clearly pounce on PG&E should this ever happen again.  So to avoid an event that would kill the company, they requested and got permission to cut the power off from those high voltage power towers that bring power into urban areas.  This is the "supposed" explanation.  However, clearly this sort of thing is leaving everyone very unhappy.  Yesterday I saw an amazing sight:



This truck was full of these crates that you can see in close-up on this photo:



These are automatic standby generators that are powered by natural gas and start automatically and immediately if the power it cut off.  Here is the product listing for this company:

http://www.generac.com/all-products/generators/home-backup-generators 

This truck was delivering a generator to house about a mile from ours and it appeared that the company had gotten enough orders to dispatch a truck with these generators just a few days after the power was cut off. 

It is a curious move because it really is only suitable for power outages.  Bad weather is extremely rare in California and the other looming fear in California is earthquakes.  Any earthquake strong enough to take out the bower grid will most likely take out the natural gas system at the same time - making this sort of generator useless.  Considering they are expensive and require a complex installation by a professional electrician, this is a very large investment to respond to future potential power shutoffs alone. 

Yet, I cannot blame my neighbors either.  I have one more picture from yesterday:



This tree was spared last June and was to the right of all these trees cut back then:



Here we are in October and all of a sudden a tree that was "okay" in June now has to be removed.  Does this look like an organization that has a coherent fire prevention strategy or more like a "chicken with its head cut off?"

Very sad times indeed here in California, . . . . . . .  :(

Oh well, . . . . . Edouard

xairbusdriver

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Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2019, 01:47:51 AM »
I know what’s in that truck. When my father and mother-in-law were alive, we seriously considered installing one of those generators at their farm house. It would have run on LPG until we could get more permanent living quarters arranged for them. I did buy a small Honda generator to keep their freezer running when the electricity gets knocked out by ice storms.

Thanks for the info and good luck understanding bureaucrats! [banghead]  [rolleyes2]

Blicj11

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Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2019, 05:02:12 PM »
Generac made the very worst residential backup generators on the planet for more than a decade. They would not automatically startup when called upon. It got so bad they had to sell under a different brand name for a few years. They redesigned from the ground up and now have sufficient quality to sell through Home Depot. I still would not buy a Generac.

When we built our mountain home 12 years ago we installed a propane-fueled backup generator (most places in rural America do not have natural gas) built by Kohler. Where we live, it is a necessity; we lose power from our electrical mains often. The Kohler is 12 years old now and has never missed a beat in providing backup electrical power. At the time, I spent an extra US$1800 for an automatic transfer switch so I don't have to be present to switch the source. We are so glad we have the backup system. It powers the lights, heat, refrigerator, induction stove top, freezer, and most importantly, home entertainment center, not to mention WeatherCat and it's supporting cast of hardware.
Blick


The Grand Poohbah

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Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2019, 06:17:56 PM »
Edouard described the PG&E situation well. We also live in a PG&E PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutdown) area. The entire western half of our county had no power. Businesses, government offices, gas stations and even landline telephones were out of power for about 3 days. We "camped out" in our house with power from our home-brew 13kW PTO generator. The generator is connected to the tractor PTO shaft. I rigged a heavy-duty 240V cable that runs from the transfer switch and plugs into the PTO generator. It supplies our house with everything we need (except water, but that's a different story). We rural folk have learned to improvise.  :)


Blicj11

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Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2019, 06:25:20 PM »
Grand, that is one of the coolest inventions I have seen. Well done, sir!
Blick


xairbusdriver

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Re: Link to 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2019, 08:03:00 PM »
Love that "wide-body" trailer! Or, as Edouard might think, is it a narrow gauge trailer? cmu:-) I'm a bit concerned about that C-clamp... did a qualified electrician approve that? [roll]

elagache

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Dear X-Air, Blick, Grand, and WeatherCat observers of other things turning - and not for the better,

Thanks Grand for sharing your experiences.  I'm glad you managed to come up with something given that you were without power for so long.  I'm trying to make some intelligent decisions to prepare for a longer outage than we faced last week.  In the meantime the National Weather Service is starting to make "Red Flag Weather" noises.  As usual the forecast models are disagreeing, so I don't know if we are facing another round of trouble or not.

Such are da' conditions that prevail in California . . . . .

Oh well, . . . . . Edouard

elagache

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Just another Autumn in California. (Re: 7-day wildfire risk outlooks.)
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2019, 12:11:49 AM »
Dear WeatherCat users who seek to avoid weather related hazards,

The link at the top of this thread has a dedicated version just for Northern California alone:

https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/psp/npsg/forecast#/outlooks?state=map&gaccId=4

If you select the next few days indeed threats become seriously elevated for parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the East Bay were I live.  We have gone through one deliberate power shutoff and are waiting to find out if the next off-shore wind even will prompt and other power cutoff.  In the meantime there was a surprisingly candid if disturbing paragraph tacked on to the end of the Fire Weather discussion for the San Francisco office of the National Weather Service:

  We realize there becomes public and fire manager fatigue factor 
  in dealing with multiple events and discerning the different 
  intensity levels. During the fall of 2017 we had 2-3 moderate 
  intensity Red Flag events before the devastating wine country 
  fires. Should we be lucky enough to get through tomorrows wind 
  event would ask for continued vigilance heading into the weekend 
  wind event.


It is only the 22nd of October.  The Camp fire that destroyed Paradise started on November 8th.  The wildfire season is most definitely not over yet in California I'm doing the best I can to cope with each successive potential crisis.

Most definitely such are da' conditions that prevail in California during this season.

Oh well, . . . . . Edouard